Last season Canuck’s general manager Mike Gillis won the General Manager of the year award for his 2010/2011 season acquisitions. This included signing Manny Malholtra, Raffi Torres, and Dan Hamhuis. Gillis also acquired Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre for almost nothing.
Many argued that Tampa Bay Lightning’s general manager Steve Yzerman deserved the GM of the year award for his season acquisitions which I admit were fairly impressive. Yzerman was often favoured due to Mike Gillis’ major “bust” of a trade involving a 1st round pick and prospect Michael Grabner to Florida for defenseman Keith Ballard.
Sit down and close your eyes and think of the biggest Keith Ballard moment you can remember. Let me guess, is it the hip check on Jordan TooToo in round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs that caused TooToo to do a full out cartwheel? Or is it seeing him sitting in the press box during the playoffs, a healthy scratch, while rookie Chris Tanev notched some impressive ice time? Or from back in his Florida days when he slashed his own goalie over the head in frustration?
There has been a lot of talk throughout the league and especially Vancouver about one of the worst trades in Canuck history. This is mainly due to how Michael Grabner had his break out season on the New York Islanders (since Florida placed him on waivers). In 20 games with the Vancouver Canucks Grabner had 5 goals and 11 points. Then after being traded and put on waivers, in New York after 76 games he had an impressive 34 goals and 52 points. While Grabner had a remarkable season, Ballard did not.
Last season Keith Ballard was consistently a healthy scratch, and when he did play he averaged only 15 minutes a game. He played 65 games and had 2 goals and 7 points. Most importantly, in the playoffs Ballard played only 10 out of 25 of the Canuck’s games. He was dropped in the depth chart behind Aaron Rome and rookie Chris Tanev.
Keith Ballard is a two way defensemen known for his hard hits and hip checks. Some good qualities he has of coarse are his hits, crisp passing and he is a very smooth skater. However the bad exceeds the good, he provides frequent turnovers, poor communication, a lazy back check, and some games he does not work as hard as others. Reasons such as the above are why it is rumoured that Mike Gillis is shopping Keith Ballard and looking for a new defenseman.
Some names that have been tossed into the mix include 27 year old defenseman Matt Carle from the Philadelphia Flyers. The thing that sticks out the most about Matt Carle is his amount of games played the past few years: 82, 80, and 76. Considering how often the Canuck’s have defenseman injuries (Salo, Bieksa, Edler), a more durable defenseman such as Matt Carle would be a nice change. He is also a UFA after this season and would be a nice “rental.” It would also clear cap space to lose Keith Ballard’s hefty 4.2 million contract with 4 remaining years. Last season Matt Carle had 1 goal and 39 points. Who needs Christian Ehrhoff?
One thing that sticks out to this potential trade is the recent injury of Chris Pronger. He will be out 4 weeks due to knee surgery. Would Philadelphia want to move Matt Carle during Chris Pronger’s absence? We’ll have to wait and see.
Someone I would love to see the Canucks acquire is a guy like Willie Mitchell. A classy stay at home defenseman who will stay back and help out Luongo/Schneider. His long stick alone seems to get more media attention than Andrew Alberts.
If everything was perfect in the Canuck world, then Mike Gillis would pull off a miracle and acquire superstar defenseman Shea Weber. Former teammate of current Canuck Dan Hamhuis has been rumoured to want to play inVancouver. After signing only a one year contract over the summer with Nashville, there is potential he could be used as a rental for a team such as the Canucks.
Unfortunately, this seems unlikely due to the fact that Nashville is a Stanley Cup contender and they would get weaker from losing Shea Weber. Canuck fans such as myself will have to wait until the offseason and see if Mike Gillis can pull off a miracle to acquire Shea Weber. We can always dream right?