Devils' Replacement Options For Ryan Graves

It appears as though Ryan Graves is on his way out of New Jersey this offseason as there is no contract in place, James Nichols reported. The defenseman was a key and underrated piece that the Devils picked up before the Seattle Kraken expansion draft from the Colorado Avalanche. For the great defensive play he showed this season and while in New Jersey, he is going to get a raise and likely longer term on his next deal.

Graves is finishing up a three-year, $3.167 million AAV deal that saw him slot in on the second pairing for the Devils. He isn't known for his offense, but recorded eight goals, 26 points, and was a +34. With Graves out, who is going to replace him in the lineup and what are the Devils going to add this offseason to keep a competent defensive group intact?

Joonas Seigenthaler has been another underrated piece on the left side for the Devils as well and he is capable of handling first or second pairing minutes. The other option the Devils fortunately have who they got a short preview of is Luke Hughes. The 19-year-old finished up a very impressive season in the NCAA and jumped right into the NHL. Despite his age, he is ready for the NHL and with his talent level, a top-four role. With Graves' spot likely assumed by Hughes, that means their bottom pairing will be the one that needs to be addressed.

As of now, the internal options are Kevil Bahl, Brendan Smith, and Simon Nemec. Bahl plays exclusively on the left side while Nemec should play exclusively on the right. Smith can fill in where needed, but I wouldn't place him any higher than a sixth/seventh defenseman. Nemec could start out in the AHL and eventually get the callup and the left side could also garner an upgrade. I don't think the Devils have ruled out a free agent addition on either side for the right price short-term. Look for them to go shopping for someone who is more defensively focused.

Photo credit: © Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports