Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Jets re-sign Maurice’s coaching staff

    Jul 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Winnipeg Jets v Colorado Avalanche Getty Images

    Charlie Huddy, Pascal Vincent and Wade Flaherty all inked three-year extensions.

  2. Blues re-sign Allen for two years

    Jul 3, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT

    Jake Allen AP

    Expected to battle Brian Elliott for the starting role in St. Louis.

  3. Oilers sign McDavid to entry-level contract

    Jul 3, 2015, 12:23 PM EDT

    Connor McDavid AP

    “It’s an exciting time to be a part of this organization.”

  4. Quick hits: Caps give Bourque two-year, two-way deal

    Jul 3, 2015, 11:32 AM EDT

    Nashville Predators v Washington Capitals Getty Images

    Bobby Sanguinetti to Buffalo; Sharks grab Mark Cundari.

  5. Philly hires goalie coach Dillabaugh, formerly of Los Angeles

    Jul 3, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    Steve Mason AP

    Where he “contributed to the development of Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Bernier and Martin Jones.”

  6. Rangers sign ex-Sabres, Jackets forward Adam

    Jul 3, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT

    Luke Adam Getty Images

    The 44th overall pick at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

  7. Is it too early to get excited about Crosby vs. Ovechkin again?

    Jul 3, 2015, 10:20 AM EDT

    150703_SidneyCrosbyAlexOvechkin Getty Images

    Their supporting casts haven’t been this strong in some time.

  8. Senators hire André Tourigny as an assistant coach

    Jul 3, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v Colorado Avalanche Getty Images

    Pictured listening to Patrick Roy; he’ll next listen to Dave Cameron.

  9. Blues ink Brodziak, Harrold to one-year contracts

    Jul 2, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Kyle Brodziak Kyle Brodziak

    Doug Armstrong dipped into the free agency pool Thursday evening for some depth signings.

  10. Oshie on trade from St. Louis: ‘Changes had to be made’

    Jul 2, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT

    T.J. Oshie T.J. Oshie

    He’s looking forward to playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom in Washington.

  11. Voynov remains suspended by the NHL after taking plea

    Jul 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Slava Voynov Slava Voynov

    There’s no “timetables for next steps,” according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. M. Richards (2564)
  2. D. Hamilton (2087)
  3. S. Gagner (1910)
  4. C. Talbot (1884)
  5. P. Kessel (1869)
  1. Z. Kassian (1850)
  2. E. Etem (1819)
  3. A. Sekera (1770)
  4. A. Niemi (1742)
  5. R. O'Reilly (1656)