Vancouver Canucks: What Do the Canucks Do with Keith Ballard?

John BainCorrespondent IIJanuary 12, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: Keith Ballard #4 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during NHL action on December 04, 2011 against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

It was just announced that Keith Ballard would yet again be a healthy scratch tonight versus the St. Louis Blues. Ever since coming across to the Canucks from the Florida Panthers prior to last season, Ballard seems to have been in Canucks Head Coach Alain Vigneault's doghouse. It seems AV picks a player each season to keep in his doghouse, but Ballard has had an extended stay.

Last year Ballard wasn't so deserving of all the healthy scratches, but so far this season he has only spent time in the press box due to injuries, until now.

Ballard has just seven points this season and is a minus-1 overall. The main issue with Keith Ballard is that he is marketed as an offensive defenseman and has the skill to move the puck and skate end to end, but he hasn't been able to display these talents for whatever reason this season, and when he has tried, he has got caught to far into the offensive zone and results in odd man rushes for the opposition. Even Ballard's patented hip check has gone missing from his arsenal of skills.

Sometimes Ballard just looks lost out there. For a veteran defenseman, the Canucks expect a lot more from their $4.2 million a year cap hit in Ballard. Due to his lack of production—Ballard is not in the top 30 among defenseman in any major statistical categories, including hits, blocked shots, and takeaways—Ballard appears to be impossible to trade due to lack of value. 

The Vancouver Canucks are stuck in a predicament, largely in part to the cap hit Ballard takes as they are not able to bring up certain defenseman from the Wolves who are capable to play in Ballard's spot in the lineup like Chris Tanev. 

Unless Ballard wakes up and starts playing like he did in Florida and Phoenix, it appears as though he could be trade bait at the deadline if anyone wants to take a chance; otherwise, the waiver wire is the only other option.

Of course, Canucks GM Mike Gillis could stick to his guns and keep Ballard in the lineup. The only issue is that you never want a coach and player combination that does not work. Only time will tell, but something needs to be done with Keith Ballard, whether it is to continue on with the Canucks or not.

John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist

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