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Vancouver Canucks Defenseman Keith Ballard Deserves More Ice Time

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Keith Ballard #4 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on October 13, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Kevin WContributor IINovember 5, 2010

The decision making of the Canucks coaching staff baffles me sometimes and the lack of ice time for Keith Ballard baffles me.

The Canucks acquired Ballard from the Florida Panthers along with forward Victor Oreskovich in exchange for a first round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (the Panthers used the pick on centre Quinton Howden), Michael Grabner, and Steve Bernier.

“He's a very dynamic defenseman,” Gilman said at the time. “He's a guy who plays in both ends of the rink. He can play on the power play. He's physical, and he's an incredibly competitive player. He is, in our minds, a critical component of a competitive, top-four defence.”

This was a guy that Canucks associate coach (and the guy who runs the defense) Rick Bowness and assistant general manager Laurence Gilman that pushed hard for to get. The Canucks gave up the equivalent of two first round picks, a second round pick, and a third round pick to obtain him.

Not only did the Canucks give up a larger number of assets to obtain him, he is the second highest paid defenseman at $4,200,000; slightly less than Dan Hamhuis at $4,500,000. 

A high price to pay for a sixth defenseman, or at least that is how he is being used.

Thus far in seven games, Ballard has averaged 14:00 a night on the third pairing and has had one second of power play time. Who has more ice time than him?

Aaron Rome, the $750,000 man and the guy we thought was the eighth defenseman when healthy. He has averaged 17:31 on the season and is getting power play time.

Ballard is an absolute beast when it comes to blocking shots, he had 201 blocks last season with the Florida Panthers for second in the entire NHL.

He was the reason that Luongo was able with preserve that 3-0 shutout against the New Jersey Devils on November 1st by making critical blocks.

An extra blocked shot or two could mean getting that extra point in the standings or not.

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