None of their shots were as hard as the 103.4-mile-per-hour blast Yarmouth’s Ryan Graves fired off to win the AHL’s all-star shot contest.
At the NHL event last weekend, Subban’s shot was 102.3 mph, Malkin’s was 97 and Seguin’s was 95. In fact, had Graves fired his shot in the NHL all-star competition, he would have finished third – just nudged out by Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning, whose shot was 103.9.
“I didn’t expect it, but it’s pretty cool,” says Graves about his shot during the Jan. 31 competition in Syracuse, New York.
The 20-year-old New York Rangers draft prospect says it was an honour to be selected for the AHL All-Star Classic. Players were chosen by a committee of American Hockey League coaches. Graves was the only player picked from his Hartford Wolf Pack team.
The six-foot-four, 220-pound defenceman was assigned to the Rangers affiliate team after going deep in the New York Rangers NHL training camp last fall.
“I’ve been getting good ice time and playing in most situation," Graves said about the move from major junior to pro hockey. "But there is still a lot of areas to grow in and improve.”
What has been the biggest learning curve?
“Everyone is bigger, faster, stronger,” he says. “You have to know what you’re going to do with the puck before you get it. You have to be a lot smarter and be physically ready to play.”
Graves’ play isn’t going unnoticed. His team’s assistant coach Jeff Beukeboom, a four-time Stanley Cup winner, had this to say about Graves in his Beuk’s Blog: “He always seems to be in the right spot, and has that willingness to block shots. Plus, he’s got a cannon of a shot. Being his coach is pretty simple because first and foremost he has talent, and second of all his work ethic is strong, and he has tremendous character.”
In his first 45 games of the season Graves had five goals and 10 assists. He says his team is on the bubble as to whether it’ll make the playoffs, but there’s still a lot of hockey left in the season.
One thing Graves knows for certain is he has a lot of people from home rooting for him.
“The support from home is pretty unreal. It’s unbelievable,” he says. “The way people follow our team and the messages that I get, people saying ‘Just keep going’ and ‘Congrats!’ It means a lot.”
4 things to know about Ryan Graves
1. Graves was a fourth-round draft pick, 110th overall, by the New York Rangers in June 2013.
2. While playing major junior in the QMJHL, Graves played in the Memorial Cup two straight years. In his second showing with the Quebec Remparts he earned all-star honours.
3. Graves grew up playing minor hockey in Yarmouth. In his last minor hockey year with bantam AAA, he was the league’s top defenceman.
5. During his New York Rangers training camp last fall he played in an NHL exhibition game against the Philadelphia Flyers.