Ryan Graves Season Struggles Evident in Penguins 4-3 Loss

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Ryan Graves was supposed to be a marquee signing for the Pittsburgh Penguins when he signed a six-year $27 million dollar deal back in free agency. At the time, Graves looked like a great signing as he is a younger defenseman than former Penguins defenseman, he was a +34, and a solid defensive defenseman with 152 blocked shots.

However, so far this season, he has not seen the same success during his time with the Colorado Avalanche and last season as a New Jersey Devil compared to Pittsburgh. Statistically, he is fine with five points and a +9. In just 36 games played, Graves has already spent 20 minutes in the penalty box which is only four and eight less minutes than he did the past two seasons with the Devils.

Graves last season had eight goals which was his most since the 2019-20 season where he had nine. He is not known to be an offensive defenseman like his counterparts in Kris Letang and Erik Karlsson. However, his 2.3 shooting percentage is the worst of his career since the 2020-21 season, and we're hoping he can produce a little more offense. Another issue with Graves's game offensively is his inability to take care of the puck as he has 23 giveaways this season.

Graves was brought in to be an elite defensive defenseman and to most likely play alongside Karlsson who is not known for his defense. However, despite being known as an elite defensive defenseman, Graves has not looked like one so far despite being a +9.

His most recent game against the Washington Capitals in the 4-3 loss on Tuesday was evident. He finished the game with a -2 +/-. However, he was on the ice for three of the Capitals four goals. However, to his credit after the game he was very critical of himself, mentioning to the media that it is inexcusable to be on the ice for three goals allowed.

He also mentioned for a guy in his role, mistakes need to be limited. Take the time to search his name on X and most of the tweets are Penguins fans not happy with his game as of late. One of the goals he was on the ice for was his own goal that was deflected off of him and in.

After the Capitals game, Graves has been demoted to the third line playing with a rotation of Chad Ruhwedel and Ryan Shea. Pierre-Olivier Joseph moves up to the second line with Karlsson. Graves needs to step it up to regain his spot on the first or second line and there is no better way than a hot streak starting Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.

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