He came to the Avalanche with the rap as something of an “AHL guy”, a player with lots of pro hockey experience – just none of it at the NHL level. That’s all changed now for Ryan Graves. No one can ever take it away from him, the fact that he made it to The Show. He’s got three games of NHL experience, and there will be a fourth on Wednesday night when the Avs entertain the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center.

The Avs are in a 2-6-2 slide, and Graves has yet to experience what an NHL win feels like. But he still can’t wipe the smile off his face. Graves, a person who looks like a cross between former Avs goalie David Aebischer and actor Rob Lowe, can’t help it. He took the scenic route to the NHL – five years of junior in the Quebec Major League and four at the American League level.

A 2013 fourth-round draft choice of the New York Rangers, Graves had to wait a good while to get his NHL shot, but so far he’s pretty much made the most of it. That also helps explain the perma-grin he seems to be wearing right now.

“You dream of playing in the NHL as a kid, so from that aspect it’s been awesome,” Graves told BSN Denver. “I’ve just been trying to take it in and enjoy it. I’ve just tried to put my best foot forward and play as best I can.”

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Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater, was born in Vermont and lived as a tot in New York City before living most of his first 25 years in New Hampshire. Education:  Went to Keene State College and received a degree in journalism in 1988. I wrote sports for the college paper, called "The Equinox." Career: After a two-year stint out of college working as a proofreader and part--time sports writer for The Concord Monitor (N.H)., I moved to Denver in May of 1991, with no job, no connections and no car, but a lot of hope. After doing some odd jobs (including working as a bill collector for a trash company), I found some odd writing jobs for local periodicals and then latched on with The Denver Post in December of 1991 as a score-taker for the high-school sports department. That led to more writing jobs, such as covering DU hockey, lots of high-school coverage and various minor-pro sports. In March of 1995, I got a scoop that would change my life: I broke the story of the Quebec Nordiques moving to Denver to become the Avalanche, and for the next 19 years I covered the team every day. In 2015, I became the lead NHL national columnist with Bleacher Report, where I worked until 2017 before joining BSN Denver. I have also been a main hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Hockey News, The Sporting News, Hockey Digest, Versus.com and have written seven books on sports, including the 2006 best-selling "Blood Feud", a book about the famous Avs-Red Wings rivalry. Most memorable sports moment: As a fan, when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. Also, when the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 1984 NBA Finals. The finest sports book I’ve ever read: It would probably be a book called "Game Misconduct", by Russ Conway. It's the story of how a small-town sports reporter (Conway) in Massachusetts exposed the corruption and brought down one of the most powerful figures in the NHL at the time, Alan Eagleson. The book is a primer on how to report and investigate powerful entities. One sports movie that I can’t live without: I loved "Rocky III", and I loved a 1977 basketball movie starring Robby Benson called "One on One." And, of course, "Slap Shot." Most memorable experience as a reporter: I've gotten to interview some of my boyhood heroes, including Larry Bird, Fred Lynn and Luis Tiant. But probably the most memorable of them all was writing the story of Ray Bourque's one and only Stanley Cup in his 22 years, his final game as a pro with the Avs in 2001. The sport that started it all: As a guy who eventually grew to become 6-foot-6, I could hoop it up some. I was the starting center on my high-school team that made the N.H. state semifinals in 1983. While I never played competitive hockey, I played a lot on the many frozen ponds of New Hampshire and had a pretty good slap shot.