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Official: Ballard & Oreskovich Head to Vancouver For Grabner, Bernier & 1st Rounder

Keith Ballard

#2 / Defenseman / Florida Panthers



Nov 26, 1982

2009 - Keith Ballard 82 8 20 28 -7 88 1 0 1 0 90 8.9

Victor Oreskovich

#65 / Right Wing / Florida Panthers



Aug 15, 1986

2009 - Victor Oreskovich 50 2 4 6 -8 26 0 0 0 0 55 3.6

You would think Florida would be weary of trading with Vancouver but, by the looks of it, they may have gotten the better deal for a change

In what became a comedic Tweet fuckfest of misadventure, the rumors started with Ballard for #25, than Ballard for Steve Bernier, Ballard for Bernier and a pick, Ballard and Oreskovich for Grabner, Bernier and the pick...and then a haunting nothing as we waited for the #25th pick only to learn the first rounder could be next year's if a number of prospects are still available at #25. For the record, all the pieces are still not official. EDIT: Gillis never got his pick so the deal is now official.

It seems Vancouver paid an awful lot for the services of Keith Ballard. The 11th pick overall by Buffalo in 2002, we'll get to know plenty about him in the coming weeks because - if nothing else - how does his $4.2 million fit into the overall cap plans? He'll be the highest paid defenseman (Bieksa is second at $3.7 million) and entrusted with either leading the corps (yikes?) or a potential replacement for Mitchell or maybe Bieksa (hooray?). Most people will simply remember this (which is fair if not downright hilarious) but here's another video we'll learn to love too. For what it's worth he did lead Florida in QUALCOMP and endured the tougher zone starts as well. Not the biggest guy, but a gritty guy who should provide Vancouver with an immediate top four blueliner, though not one of the quality (yet) of Mitchell or a Hamhuis.

Officially having the hardest name to pronounce on the team, Victor Oreskovich (two way, $575,000) is Bernier-like in that he's an "energetic" third liner. He did leave hockey all together a few years ago to finish up schooling but returned and earned himself a promotion to the Panthers for 50 games last season, earning six points with a 8:53 ATOI. No doubt about it: he's a dark horse who will have to fight to earn a bottom six role. If he does, he may end up being a better physical player than Bernier though probably not on the scoresheet unless he can improve on his "load to move from the front of the net" quality.

Good ol' Hands of Stone showed flashes of brilliance over his two years in Vancouver, but the consistency was never there and Gillis sheds the final year of his $2 million dollar deal in the process. Maybe he can turn his career around away from the limelight, otherwise the Panther faithful will soon watch plenty of open net goals be horrifically missed.

Also going south is Michael Grabner and likely the source of angst for many. Grabner showed some of his skill this season, but the prevailing thought is that Grabner and Raymond are too similar and MayRay is more vital to the team composition now. Additionally, with Hodgson and Schroeder in the pipeline Vancouver didn't need three smallish prospects (what is this anyway, Montreal?) and Grabner became the more attractive asset to move. For all we know Vigneault didn't want him either; remember it was only this year that Grabner finally made the jump to the NHL after a few bad preseasons. There are many angles we don't know yet, but clearly moving Grabner could come back to haunt the organization.

Vancouver sacrificed speed and youth for size and grit. You wanted a gamble? You got it.