Written by: Larry “The Nucks IceMan” Johnson
So Vancouver Canucks’ Mike Gillis finally made a bold move today, giving up his No. 25 entry draft choice along with Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner for young and tough Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard and right wing prospect Victor Oreskovich.
On paper it looks like Bernier and the draft choice for Ballard with Grabner and Oreskovich both, still prospects to be a wash.
Along with it the ‘Nucks take on about $2.2 million more in contract as Grabner and Oreskovich have similar salaries.
So my question to you is, did Gillis give up too much for Ballard?
With no second and third-round picks, that means for the first time in recent memory the Canucks will go without a pick until the fourth round.
Personally I like Ballard and what he brings to the defense group. When I first saw him up close at a Canucks game, he was playing for the Phoenix Coyotes.
That night I made a note about how he and a number of the other Coyotes D-men had pounded the Canuck forwards all night long.
Quite imposing, I thought, a player to watch.
Ballard had some impressive stats with the Panthers as he led the team in hits and blocked shots, was second to Bryan McCabe in ice time, second on the team in penalty minutes, and was third amongst D-men in points (eight goals, 20 assists).
He’s not tall in stature at 5’11″ but is built solidly at 208lbs, shoots right and plays physical which will be a welcome addition to the Canucks.
He was a first-round draft pick (No. 11 overall) by the Buffalo Sabres in 2002.
He now becomes the highest paid D-man at $4.2 million and is signed through until 2013/14.
I have not seen Oreskovich play but I like his size at 6’3″, 215lbs and if he is a quicker skater then Bernier than that’s an improvement.
Oreskovich’s last year with the Kitchener Rangers (2006-07) he did score 28 goals and 32 assists and had 48 penalty minutes in 62 games.
Last season he split his time between the AHL Rochester Americans (six goals, nine assists in 34 games) and Florida Panthers (two goals, four assists in 50 games).
There is an upside to unloading Bernier and that is his $2 million contract.
In these cap-conscious days, you can’t be paying that type of money for a fourth line player, which is what Bernier would have ended up being next season
So now the Canucks have seven D-men signed and still need to figure out what they are going to do about Shane O’Brien (RFA) and Willie Mitchell.
Is there still cap space left for another UFA D-man because they still have a number of UF and RFA’s to deal with and not a lot of cap space?
Is there a deal to be made for Kevin Bieksa and his $3.5 million cap hit? Do they feel that Willie Mitchell would survive a year without any recurring concussion problems and would he take maybe $1.5-$2 million?
Are they still interested in Dan Hamhuis and what other trades are there to be made?
Stay tuned because the best is yet to come with free agency day approaching next Thursday, July 1.
Filed under: Vancouver Canucks