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Burns effect? Canucks d-man Ballard ‘loves’ playing wing

Mar 25, 2013, 3:08 PM EDT

Keith Ballard

Could the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks be onto something?

Just a short while after the Sharks moved defenseman Brent Burns up front, the Canucks began skating blueliner Keith Ballard as a winger after injuries sapped their forward depth.

Much like the Burns move, it’s working.

“I love it,” Ballard told the Vancouver Sun. “It’s fun, it’s just different, right. It’s a different challenge. You’ve got a bit different responsibility. I don’t know how long it’s for, but I am fine with it.”

What was supposed to be a one-time thing — Ballard debuted at forward against Phoenix on Thursday before returning to play D against LA on Saturday — might turn into something much more.

Sunday’s game in Colorado marked Ballard’s second game as a winger and he responded with arguably his finest performance of the season, registering an assist, four shots on goal and a team-high three hits in 12:48 of ice time.

Ballard skated with Alex Burrows and Andrew Ebbett against the Avs (Burrows scored the game-winner, Ebbett and Ballard assisted) and provided a spark, much like Burns has in San Jose.

Since making the move up front on Mar. 12, Burns has scored six points in six games for the Sharks and, even when not scoring, has managed to be an effective player.

He’s been pointless over the last two games, but still recorded nine shots on goal and three hits.

As for Ballard, the biggest plus from this experiment might be earned praise from Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault, who hasn’t always been the biggest Ballard fan.

Vigneault offered a rave review following Sunday’s win.

“That line with Burr, Andrew and Keith was real good all night,” Vigneault said. “[Ballard’s] a team guy, being versatile is a big plus for a player and he is able to play left wing.

“He did it two games and he did it real well for us in real tough environments and we’re really pleased with what he brought to the table.”

Note: Ballard’s time up front could be extended, as reports out of Vancouver say checking winger Dale Weise could be out for a while with a shoulder injury.

  1. mathieug79 - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    As a Tampa Bay fan, I would take him and Luongo for Lecavalier or Malone and some prospects/draft picks.

    • elvispocomo - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:02 PM

      As a Canucks fan, I wouldn’t take Lecavalier’s contract or an injured Malone and some extras though. Luongo still brings quality goaltending while Lecavalier is declining (and has a $2.4M higher cap hit). Ballard and Malone are a bit of a wash contract wise, but Malone being on the IR again (only 12 games played this year) and an uncertain return date means we say no thanks.

      Granted, if you wanted to include your 2013 1st and Nate Thompson while keeping some of Lecavalier’s cap and salary, we might consider giving both to you. 😉

      • mathieug79 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:43 PM

        I still think this might be the only way Vancouver gets a top 6 forward for Luongo, but what do I know? If I were you guys I wouldn`t want lol If he doesn’t work out, you can buy him out (now not included in your salary cap with the new CBA) Same thing with Luongo, if he doesnt pan out in Tampa they can buy him out. I would really like to get Luongo in a Tampa bay jersey, but I doubt it would happen.

        With Yzerman up at the helm, I dont think we’ll ever give up draft picks, he`s very relunctant to trade picks for some reason lol I think crombeen would help you guys out ALOT (sarcasm) 😉

      • elvispocomo - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        No way he gets bought out though. He’s still a useful player and there are teams with plenty of cap space (and whose only issue might be getting to the floor) that would take him for something even if a better deal doesn’t materialize.

  2. steverolley - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Ballard has played pretty good up on the wing and he is one player who definitely needs to build up his confidence

  3. sjsblitz - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Vancouver needs to be more original

  4. thehighcountrybear - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Yeah, hey sorry Canucks fans, when I saw ‘Burns Effect’ and ‘Ballard’ in the same headline well I thought…oh never mind?

    Ballard did look good up on the wing, real good. The real test is when he’s asked to get down and dirty on the boards, in the corners or behind the net. Payback for lowball hip checks can be brutal, catching instead of pitching as it were…

    Stand up to a few hammer jobs on the glass, he gets my vote!

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