Who's this guy?
Born: Baudette, MN, United States of MURICA
History: Has always been a favourite of mine for being nearly the same dimensions as me (I’m 5’10", 200lbs and also a stay-at-home defenseman, albeit a righty). I can only assume my 200lbs are distributed the same way his are. Oh yeah, the Canucks for him for Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner and a pick that ended up being Quinton Howden, who went pointless in 18 games this year like a LOSER.
What'd he do?
Almost nothing, in terms of the scoresheet. Ballard tallied a pair of assists, a -2 rating and 29 penalty minutes in his 36 games. Ballard was also just sixth on the team in minutes for defensemen, spending most of his time on a surprisingly effective third pairing with Chris Tanev. But a decent sixth D-man is probably not worth $4.2M, the amount Ballard is scheduled to earn in each of the next two years, leading some to speculate that he’s a buyout candidate for a team pushing close to the salary cap. That could open up $2.8M in cap room, and the Canucks have a ready replacement in Frankie Corrado.
So was he any good?
Umm, kind of, but not really? I find it difficult to evaluate Ballard separate of his price tag, which perhaps isn’t fair now that the deal is a sunk cost of sorts. But he’s straight-up not worth his price tag, and that clouds things. His possession indicators improved from his past couple of years, although part of that was due to a drop in competition quality and an uptick in offensive zone starts. Offensively, he’s just not a 20- or 30-point guy like he was in Phoenix and Florida, although even then he wasn’t strong in terms of driving possession. He’s fine as a third-pair guy, but I actually think he might have dragged down Tanev at times or used him for support.
What'd we like?
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Cool. So what did we hate?
Inconsistency. The odd gaffes in his own end. Eating up offensive-zone face-offs because he wasn’t as trustworthy in his own end. Holding back Chris Tanev. $4M at times sitting in the press box.
So what now?
Look, he’s not a bad dude or a terrible player, but he’s overpaid. For a team with a few good young defensemen and some cap issues, Ballard is an unnecessary luxury. I’d be very surprised if he isn’t bought out or dealt with the team eating some of his salary. But still…he provides me hope that one day my body and boring style of play could be NHL-worthy (note: no).