A top power forward in junior hockey, Adam Graves took a few years to step into the same role in the NHL. After a slow start as a pro, he won a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1989-90 and later helped the New York Rangers do the same in 1993-94. Graves earned respect throughout the league for his goal scoring ability, tough work in the corners and the slot and his tireless work off the ice for charity.
Born in Toronto, Graves played Junior B with King City, just north of his place of birth. Already a highly regarded amateur, he joined the Windsor Spitfires in 1985-86 where he averaged over a point per game as an OHL rookie. He caught the attention of a host of pro scouts and was drafted 22nd overall by the Detroit Red Wings at the 1986 NHL Entry Draft.
During his first year as the prospect for an NHL team, Graves scored 100 points and led the powerhouse Spitfires to the Memorial Cup tournament. Throughout the 1986-87 season Windsor was the top-rated junior outfit in Canada but they were upset by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Memorial Cup final. Graves returned for one last year of junior in 1987-88 but did suit up for nine big league games for Detroit.
Graves spent most of the 1988-89 season with the Wings in a support role. It seemed like more of the same through the first 13 games of 1989-90 before he was sent to Edmonton as part of the package assembled to bring Jimmy Carson home to Detroit. This was Graves' first big break in the NHL as he scored 21 points in 63 games while teaming with Martin Gelinas and former Wings teammate Joe Murphy on the Oilers' "Kid Line." The inexperienced trio continued to excel in the playoffs and helped Edmonton win its fifth Stanley Cup in seven seasons.
During the 1990-91 season, Graves continued to fill a checking role but was unsatisfied. On the eve of the 1991-92 season he was signed by the New York Rangers as a free agent and was asked to play the role of two way power forward for the first time since junior. He responded to the challenge with 26 and 36 goal performances in his first two seasons in New York. During the first of these he helped the Rangers win the President's trophy after amassing a league-high 105 points. Even though Graves improved in 1992-93, the team fell to sixth place in the Patrick Division and out of the playoffs.
Graves broke through with 52 goals and helped the Rangers lead the NHL with 112 points in 1993-94. In the process he entered the record books as the first ex-Edmonton Oiler to record a 50-goal season. That spring his ten post-season goals helped the Blueshirts win their first Stanley Cup since 1939-40. Graves was named to the NHL's second All-Star Team at left wing and was the recipient of the King Clancy Memorial trophy in recognition of his continuing work with charitable causes.
Through the remainder of the decade the Rangers failed to make a significant impact in the playoffs but Graves continued to be a reliable scorer. He topped the 30-goal mark twice while supplying leadership and grit for New York.
As the 90s came to a close, so was Graves time with the Rangers. After capturing the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2001, Graves signed with the San Jose Sharks where he was a leader both on and off the ice for the young talented Sharks for two seasons before announcing his retirement in April 2004.