Charlottetown Islanders assistant captain Ryan Graves found himself thinking back over the last three years Tuesday after agreeing to waive his no-trade clause in a deal with the Val-d’Or Foreurs.
“It’s pretty hard to leave Charlottetown,” the 18-year-old blue-liner said, but “it’s for the best in my career, I guess.”
The Islanders are going younger and Graves may only be in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League another season.
He knows how much he has grown physically and hockey-wise since the P.E.I. Rocket took the stay-at-home defenceman ninth overall in the 2011 draft.
“That’s kind of what makes it hard,” Graves said. “Coming in at 16 I wasn’t that good. (Coaches) Gordie (Dwyer) and Luke (Beck) helped me grow.”
The young defenceman matured and had a coming out party in last year’s playoff series with Val-d’Or. Having a deep, talented team like the Forueurs want you helped him helped make his decision easier.
The trade will reunite him with goalie Antoine Bibeau and forward Louick Marcotte.
“I know Bibs and Lou and guys there so that will make it a little easier,” Graves said. “I think it will be a good experience . . . it’s just mixed emotions.”
Part of that is the close bond he formed with his billet family, the Kielly’s, during the past three years. It is Islanders forward Kameron Kielly’s family.
General manager Grant Sonier said all the moves were tough to make, but the Graves one was different. Graves’ no-trade clause gave him control, but also made for an emotional decision.
“He came here a boy and is leaving a man,” Sonier said. “Prince Edward Island will forever be engrained in his heart.”
Sonier said there was lots of interest in the New York Rangers’ draft pick.
“We didn’t go into this trade period with the intent of trading Ryan Graves but when the assets that we acquired for Ryan were put in front of us, we had to do the deal,” he said.
Sonier called Henley, the youngest of three brothers from Val-d’Or to wear the Foreurs’ colours, a very good skating, gritty, intense defenceman.
“We’ve acquired what we identified as one of the very, very best 1997-born defencemen in the league,” he said.
Lysenko is a Ukraine native who, Sonier said, will bring a high level of intensity and grit to the back end.
To Charlottetown – David Henley and Vladislav Lysenko.
To Val-d’Or – Ryan Graves and a third-round pick (Blainville-Boisbriand) in 2014
Henley, 16, is a six-foot-four, 195-pound defenceman who has a goal and three assists in 35 games this season. He was the eighth overall pick in last year’s QMJHL Draft.
Lysenko, 18, is a five-foot-11, 210-pound defenceman who has eight assists in 39 games this season between Sherbrooke and Val-d’Or. The Kiev, Ukraine, native was a first-round pick (37th overall) in the 2012 CHL Import Draft.
Graves, 18, is a six-foot-four, 225-pound defenceman who has three goals and nine assists in 39 games this season. The Yarmouth, N.S., native was the P.E.I. Rocket first pick (ninth overall) in the 2011 Draft. He was taken in the fourth round of last year’s NHL Draft by the New York Rangers.