Just prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, the New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche completed a swap of prospect defencemen. The Rangers acquire Chris Bigras, while the Avalanche acquire defender Ryan Graves.
OFFICIAL: #NYR have acquired defenseman Chris Bigras from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Ryan Graves.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 26, 2018
Colorado Avalanche Trade Chris Bigras to the New York Rangers for Ryan Graves
Bigras, 23, was a second-round pick of the Avalanche, 32nd overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft. In 15 games this year, he has one assist. In 46 career NHL games, he has one goal and three assists. Bigras has a 42.7 percent Corsi, and -3.7 Corsi relative in his NHL career.
Last summer, I looked at Bigras as one of the Avalanche’s top prospects. The following report is based on his AHL play. Bigras has been unable to translate that to the NHL yet.
Bigras skating improves each year and it is taking his game to the next level. His top end speed and acceleration are now well above average. While he could use some improvement still, this is not a liability, but a real strength right now. He combines that speed with very good edge work, footwork and agility. This makes him difficult to beat one-on-one. When coupled with his hockey sense and positioning, it also allow him to cover a lot of ice. Bigras makes decent pivots, but could be a little bit quicker and crisper in this area as well. Bigras has good balance. He is stronger on the puck than he was in his draft year.
Bigras is an extremely smart player with outstanding instincts and positioning. While he is not flashy, he consistently makes the smart play in nearly all situations and in all three zones. Extremely poised with the puck. He makes hard, crisp tape-to-tape passes, both on the breakout and on the power play.
He has learned how to pick his spots and when to take offensive chances, often joining the rush as a trailer, and even taking some opportunities to lead it. Still, he loves to use his passing skill to get the transition game going and then follow up on the play. Bigras is quick and efficient with the puck. This means less time spent in his own end and more time spent in transition. On the power play, he is a heads up playmaker. His shot improved due to added upper body strength but is not a howitzer. He has great ability to keep it low and on target though, leading to tip-ins and rebounds.
Bigras is solid in the defensive zone. He uses his strong positioning and good instincts to their full advantage. He maintains good gap control and is rarely beaten in one on one situations. Bigras keeps his man to the outside and forces him away from the net. In this way, he forces attackers into bad shooting positions. He blocks passing lanes effectively as well. Bigras works hard in board battles and in clearing the front of the net. He has gotten stronger over the last two years. He isn’t a huge hitter but will take the body when necessary to make a play.
Graves, 22, was a fourth-round pick of the Rangers (110th Overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft. He has yet to make his NHL debut. In 57 games with the Hartford Wolfpack, he has four goals and seven assists for 11 points this season.
Here is the summer report on Graves.
Graves is a solid skater; with decent speed in both directions. He also has good edge work and strong pivots. This allows him to cover a lot of ice, and play a strong two-way game. He is solid on his skates, with good lower body strength and power. Graves wins battles for loose pucks along the boards, and does a good job of clearing the front of the net.
Offensively, Graves uses a good breakout pass and his hard shot to put up solid numbers in the AHL. Most importantly though, he showed some ability to stick handle and to have some poise with the puck. By taking the time to look for a smart pass, or make a play on the breakout or at the offensive blue line, Graves proved to be much more of a threat, and gave defences issues.
Blessed with tremendous size, Ryan Graves is a strong defensive defenceman. He is very mobile, and uses his skating to get himself into good positions to block shots, and cut down passing lanes in the defensive zone. Graves will throw a big hit if someone tries to come down his end of the ice with his head down. He’s also been willing to fight when necessary and has done well in this department the past two years. I would like to see a bit more of a mean streak along the boards and a few more big hit from him though given that size.
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