Like you, in my spare time, I think about Keith Ballard. Unlike you, I wrote a song about him. 

Still working on the verses but the chorus runs:


Ice time, ice time, where did you go?
Bad hip, MCL, and concussion laid me low.
I tried really hard but your best can't show.
When you are stuck in the doghouse of Alain Vigneault. 


It has roughly the same tune as "Skyfall" by Adele if you want to try it at home. You'll find there are parts you have to sing faster than others to make it work. I think you'll also find that the Canucks' buyout of Ballard might have him, and astute poolies, singing a new song this year.


Here's three reasons to have "Ballard" scribbled in the margins of your draft rankings, and not merely etched on your heart.


1. His place on the depth chart.


Two things to consider here.


First, prime powerplay time for defenseman is going to belong to Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon. But Ballard will get some. Yeah, it will be the leftovers for sure but the scraps from Suter's and Spurgeon's table are going to be a feast compared to what Ballard has seen in the last three years. 


Second, he'll get plenty of ice time, but not against the other teams best forwards. That's a chore belonging to Brodin and Suter. Ballard's placement, likely on the second pairing, is more conducive to regular strength points and a decent plus/minus.


2. The Wild have an OK power play.


Last season the Wild finished mid pack (16th / 18%) in the PP rankings. If they stay the same, and Ballard is getting some minutes, then logically the points should be there. And you should know that I actually took an "Intro to Logic" course freshman year of university so I am not using "logic" in the normal sense your average layperson uses it - I bring the full weight of the academy to the term. Although in the interest of full disclosure, it was my worst post secondary mark by a country mile. And you should further know that I took "Rural Measurements and You" at the local community college so when I use the term "country mile" I actually do mean a very specific distance.



3. He's gotta be hungry.


More or less in what should be his prime with something to prove. Is he a healthy scratch or a 24-minute guy? He's going to want to prove he's the latter and he is going to be doing it in front of friends and family in hometown Minnesota. Remember, the man was a first round pick in 2002 and a stud with the repeat national championship Golden Gophers. He is a "somebody" in Minnesota and that will add some fuel to a fire that should already be blazing. 


Of course, this assumes Ballard is just like yours truly who manages to find another gear in my late night rec. hockey games once a year when my 8-year-old son allowed to stay up late and come to watch dear old spindly-legged dad. With PuckPastor Jr. in the crowd ("crowd" here a generous and not entirely accurate term) I'm a heart attack waiting to happen. The one time my father came I single-handedly killed a penalty by holding onto the puck in the opposition zone for a whole shift. It probably helped I was screaming "you proud of me now dad?" and no one wanted to come near me.


Although, I should warn you, family in the stands can also hurt your performance. My mom came to my rec. game a couple years ago and it was a major distraction for a couple of the elder statesmen on my team. Yes, she's in her 60's but she apparently still has it going on. It distracted me that a few of my peers were into my mom and my performance suffered. This could potentially happen to Keith Ballard as well depending on how hot his mom is and the various dressing room dynamics for the Minnesota Wild. I Googled “Joanne Ballard”, but it was hard to tell which of the many fetching images was his mom.


4. He's under the radar.


Some of the "D" I think are roughly in the same fantasy tier: Diaz (Montreal), Kulikov (Fla), Bogosian (Wpg), Tyutin (Clb), and Hamonic (NYI). Yeah, his name looks totally out of place on that list but that is my point. Real sleepers aren’t on the list.


Now, he is injury prone and is, well, Keith Ballard, after all. I'm not talking about bumping him way up your chart, remember that part about scribbling his name in the margins? But, depending on your draft and format, you might need a defensemen who could conceivable net 25-30 points (10 regular strength and 15 power play don’t seem out of the question) and is likely to be flying nicely under the radar.


Other articles from the Puck Pastor:

Follow Your Heart 
Confirmation Bias 
Lindy Effect 



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