Fantasy Impact: Minnesota has signed mobile defenseman Keith Ballard to a two-year contract worth $1.5 million per season.
The Wild get:
A proven top-four defenseman who struggled during a three year stint in Vancouver. Ballard never was able to escape Alain Vigneault’s doghouse, and the lack of confidence shown in him by his head coach carried over into his play. He established himself as a good puck mover and physical presence in both Florida and Phoenix, and for a low risk the Wild are hoping that he can find his game once again playing at home.
Ballard spends his summer training with the Wild’s strength and conditioning coach, Kirk Olson. They know what they are getting with him.
Fantasy Players Impacted:
Ballard, at the very least, will play a two-way role on the bottom pairing. He isn’t a power play defenseman, but he should put up points due to his skating/rushing ability. He has a weak shot but he moves better than most defensemen in the league.
An example of said skating ability:
Ballard’s “punishment” in Vancouver wasn’t totally unwarranted – he struggled even in easy minutes. But it was obvious that he had lost all confidence in himself. This fresh start will be great for him. It was a while ago, but in 2008-09 Ballard had eight goals, 34 points, 72 PIM, 172 hits, and 136 blocked shots for Florida. That is a really, really nice fantasy season from a defenseman.
And in 2009-10, Ballard had 156 hits and 201 blocked shots. Even better.
This bumps Nate Prosser to the popcorn room. Pairings are courtesy of Hockey Wilderness. In leagues that count blocked shots and hits, Ballard is suddenly valuable once again.
Fantasy Players this helps, in order:
1. Ballard (in a huge way)
Fantasy Players this hurts, in order:
2. Matt Dumba (short term only)