Article Taken from the Denver Post
Ryan Graves on Becoming Avalanche
“I was big and clumsy,” Graves said. “I was always one of the bigger kids and I could shoot. But as far as hands and footwork and little parts of the game, (they) took a long time to come for me. They really didn’t start to come around since I was probably 17. I worked really hard on my skating and technique and things. I was always powerful but I didn’t have edgework and being smooth on the agility side. I was pretty bad. I started working really heavy when I was 16 and it started to come around with my draft year at 17.”
Graves owes many thanks to his skating coach, Doug Shepherd, who is from Gander, Newfoundland. While playing in the QMJHL for the Prince Edward Island Rocket from 2011-13, Graves trained with him three times a week at 5 a.m. There were no pucks involved. Just edge work.
“I credit him for a lot of my stride,” Graves said. “I’m not going to say I’m a great skater, but I’m also 6-5. It’s a give-and-take but Doug brought my game a long way.”
Graves was drafted by the New York Rangers, but only played for their American Hockey League affiliate in Hartford, Conn., for three-plus seasons before he was traded to Colorado on Feb. 26, 2018, for defenseman Chris Bigras, whom the Avs selected 31st overall in 2013. Graves finished last season with the Avs’ then-AHL affiliate in San Antonio, and began this season with Colorado’s new partner in Loveland, the Colorado Eagles.
But Graves had a terrific training camp and preseason with the Avs and coach Jared Bednar said in early October he expected Graves to be the first defenseman called up from the Eagles. Graves made his NHL debut Dec. 27 at Vegas and has played 20 games with the Avs heading into Friday’s game at San Jose.
He looks like a keeper.