What an eventful Draft Day for Canucks fans! With no second of third round picks in this year's draft, Gillis traded away Vancouver's first round pick (25th overall) plus Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner to the Florida Panthers for D Keith Ballard and RW Victor Oreskovich. Mike has already touched on Ballard and Oreskovich here, so I'm going to try to add some stuff that we did not post yet.
First of all, best of luck to Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner in Florida. Bernier ended up not fulfilling his potential in Vancouver. I think it's fair to say that he frustrated the hell out of us most of the time. Grabner is a player that I believe Panthers fans should be excited about.He is primarily a sniper. The 23 year-old Austrian put up 5 goals and 11 points in his first 20 NHL games last season. He had very impressive AHL stats with the Manitoba Moose. In 180 games in Manitoba Grabner scored 68 goals and 120 points.
After acquiring Ballard, Mike Gillis told TSN that the Canucks liked his puck-moving ability and that he was signed for 4 more years. 4 more years at $4.2 million per season, making him the highest paid defenceman on the team. Ballard is a feisty guy for his 5'11" 208 pound frame. He averaged over 22:00 of ice time per game last season. He is a top 4 defenceman that can play a shutdown role, and Gillis was a bit wary that he could land that (especially at a sensible price) after July 1st. I guess that puts Willie Mitchell out of the picture doesn't it? Like we had said before, there is a strange time line going on with Willie, as Gillis wanted to analyze his health after he began skating again. Mitchell is not slated to skate until mid-July. Uncertainty. MG stated he will continually add to the Canucks' depth on defence.
But there is more:
Gillis also told TSN that the Canucks are not done yet. He would like to somehow get his hands on a 2nd or 3rd round pick tomorrow. How he does that remains to be seen. He may look at trading future picks, a prospect or even a roster player or restricted free agent to land a pick in round 2. We'll see what he does tomorrow. Are Darcy Hordichuk, Shane O'Brien or Kevin Bieksa in play?
The Canucks' GM mentioned that he is on the lookout for a bigger forward for a shutdown role. He will most likely find that in free agency as there are a lot of those guys floating around in 5 days.
THE REST OF THE STORY
-The great news is that with the departure of Grabner Gillis will most likely sign Mason Raymond. Ole!
-More great news? Keith Ballard had a no trade clause in his contract with Florida. Vancouver was one of his choice destinations. Ole!
-According to Cap Geek, the Canucks have just under $10 million to spend. They currently have 8 forwards, 7 defencemen and both goalies signed. You can probably add 2 more players in Raymond and Cody Hodgson to the forward list to make that 10 forwards signed. That will leave them about $4-5 million left to spend on the remaining holes. Not bad. Not bad at all. Who knows: Gillis could drop a $3.5 million defenceman's salary via trade for even more flexibility...
-Ballard smokes Malkin and Crosbaby answers the bell.
-Ballard highlights form 2008-09. You are going to love this, trust me.
-I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Ballard is not a great fighter.
-But he must be one hell of an agitator, because here he fights and loses to....Patrick Marleau??
-Well this Ballard video wins because of the accompanying music.