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Graves: Chance to play with Crosby, Karlsson is 'super exciting'

Josh Lobel / National Hockey League / Getty

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ryan Graves is giddy about the opportunity to suit up with two of this generation's greatest players come October.

Graves, who joined the Penguins in free agency this summer on a six-year, $27-million contract, praised Pittsburgh's acquisition of superstar blue-liner Erik Karlsson.

"It's exciting," Graves told's Tom Gulitti. "You're adding the reigning Norris Trophy champion. He had an historic season last year, and he was unbelievable on a San Jose team that struggled. He was virtually like all of their offense. So, adding a piece like that is super exciting."

Pittsburgh's defensive pairings are far from set in stone, but Graves could be a logical fit in the top four alongside the right-handed Karlsson.

"Especially for a guy like me that's a left-handed shot and a defense-first kind of D-man, you never know who you're going to play with. But even if it's not your partner, things get shuffled, and you get shifts with guys," Graves said. "I think it's cool to have a guy like that around, and he's going to make our team much better."

The other player Graves is eager to team up with, predictably, is captain Sidney Crosby. Graves said he's already felt the influence of Crosby's leadership before even playing a game together.

"I'm only imagining just the way he runs a team just from seeing how dialed in he is off the ice and how he takes care of his body, and how seriously he takes his craft," Graves said.

"What is he, 36 now? And he looks like he's 30 years old. He still moves well. He's still putting up crazy numbers and he's still an elite forward in the League, so just learning from the way he takes care of his body, he's so serious about it, and the way he leads by example."

Pittsburgh missed the playoffs for the first time since Crosby's rookie season - 2005-06 - this past spring. The club then brought in Kyle Dubas as general manager and president of hockey operations and made plenty of roster changes in hopes of returning to contention.

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