Earlier today, we discussed trading Tom Gilbert. Now, let's take a look at a potential replacement: Keith Ballard
First, the numbers:
Ballard had respectable seasons with both Phoenix and Florida. His numbers dropped sharply when he went to Vancouver. Obviously, there has to be a reason for this. A solid player does not go from being solid to being crap for no reason. It could be he didn't fit into the system or the coaching. Alain Vingeault kept Ballard on a very short leash, and if he made a mistake, he was benched, not given a chance to recover from it. Confidence may have become an issue.
I spoke with a Canucks fan about Ballard, and she gave me her opinion on why he didn't succeed in Vancouver: Ballard was acquired in case the Canucks didn't get Dan Hamhuis. They had too many top 4 D. Vingeault wanted a safe bottom D pairing and Ballard was put into a role he wasn't familiar with. He also had rotating partners, Rome, Alberts, Barker. He would be put with whatever D was struggling. They also tried to switch him from a left handed shot to a right handed shot. Other players were given the opportunities to play through their mistakes, and Ballard was not.
So, besides sweet hip checks, what does Ballard bring to the Wild? He's got a solid skill set, even if it wasn't used much in Vancouver, PK ability, he blocks shots, good puck handling, veteran D presence, and is respectful of the system even when he doesn't fit into it. His numbers, pre-Vancouver are solid. He also does what is asked of him, playing forward last season for the Canucks. He's also a great guy to have in the locker room. Here's an example of Ballard on the PK:
I feel that being benched after making a mistake gave him a confidence issue, even though he has stated otherwise. Because seriously, no one is going to admit they have no confidence, they'd never play again. I think Vingeault was the wrong coach for Ballard and that Yeo would be a much better option. As was pointed out to me, Yeo has a knack for recognizing the individuality of players and knowing what they need. I also feel that Yeo would give Ballard a longer. leash, allowing him to play through his mistakes and correct them, rebuilding his confidence and restoring him to his numbers. I see Ballard as competing for the 4th D spot.
The downside to Ballard, aside from the fact that he needs a change of scenery, is he's a left handed shot and we already have several.
If we were to trade Ballard for Gilbert we would be trading a 4 million dollar cap hit for a 4.2 million dollar one, so that's not the way to go here.
Ballard is being bought out by the Canucks. I feel that we should buy out Gilbert and offer Ballard between 1-2 million for no more than 2 years.