Ice Hockey Wiki
Keith Ballard
Keith Ballard 03-2011.jpg
Position Defense
Shoots Left
5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
208 lb (95 kg)
NHL Team
F. Teams
Vancouver Canucks
Florida Panthers
Phoenix Coyotes
Born (1982-11-26)November 26, 1982,
Baudette, MN, USA
NHL Draft 11th overall, 2002
Buffalo Sabres
Pro Career 2004 – present

Keith Ballard (born November 26, 1982) is an American professional ice hockey defenseman who is currently a member of the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He played college hockey for the Minnesota Golden Gophers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) for three seasons. After his freshman year, he was selected 11th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Before he made his NHL debut, he was traded twice – initially to the Colorado Avalanche, then to the Phoenix Coyotes. He played his professional rookie season in 2004–05 with the Coyotes' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies, then debuted with Phoenix the following season. After three years, he was traded to the Florida Panthers, where he spent two seasons before being dealt to Vancouver at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Internationally, Ballard has represented the United States in four World Championships, winning bronze in 2004. He has also played in two junior tournaments – the 2000 IIHF World U18 Championships and 2002 World Junior Championships.

Playing career

Junior and college (1999–2004)

Ballard played two seasons at the junior level in the United States Hockey League (USHL), initially with the United States National Development Team in 1999–00, then the Omaha Lancers the following season. He recorded 51 points over 56 games in 2000–01. With a league-leading 22 goals among defensemen,[1] he earned First Team All-Star honors and a selection to the 2001 USHL All-Star Game.[2][3] In the post-season, he helped the Lancers win the Clark Cup as league champions,[1] notching seven points in 10 playoff games.

In 2001–02, he began a three-year tenure of college hockey with the Minnesota Golden Gophers of the WCHA, a conference within the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). He joined a defensive corps in Minnesota that included future NHL players Jordan Leopold and Paul Martin.[1] Ballard was a much-anticipated freshman and was named the WCHA's pre-season rookie of the year.[4] Making his collegiate debut on October 5, 2001, he notched two assists against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.[4] Ballard started his rookie campaign on a six-game point streak that included two goals and four assists.[4] Recording 10 goals and 23 points over 41 games total as a freshman, he earned WCHA All-Rookie Team honors.[5] In the first round of the subsequent WCHA playoffs, he scored the series-clinching goal in overtime to eliminate North Dakota.[4] The Golden Gophers advanced to the 2002 NCAA Championships, where they captured their first of back-to-back national titles. Ballard scored the first goal of the NCAA final against the Maine Black Bears, helping Minnesota to a 4–3 win in overtime.[6][7]

The following year, Ballard recorded a college career-high 41 points over 45 games, fourth among NCAA defensemen and third in team scoring.[4] He was named a WCHA All-Academic and University of Minnesota Scholar Athlete for combined performance with the Golden Gophers and in classes.[4] He helped the Golden Gophers to the Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA playoff champions and earned WCHA Final Five All-Tournament Team honors after recording two assists and a +4 rating in the final two games of the post-season.[4] The Gophers then defeated the New Hampshire Wildcats in the 2003 NCAA Final by a 5–4 score to repeat as national champions.[8] Ballard received NCAA West Regional All-Star honors for his efforts during the tournament.[4]

Ballard was named an alternate captain in his third year[9] and produced 11 goals and 36 points over 37 games. His 0.97 points-per-game average ranked second among NCAA defensemen, while his five game winning goals were second among all WCHA players and fifth in the NCAA.[10] Ballard served as captain in place of Grant Potulny when the latter was sidelined with injury.[11] Ballard was also sidelined for seven games during the campaign himself with a knee injury.[11] He was voted by his teammates as Minnesota's most valuable player[12] and received WCHA First All-Star Team, WCHA All-Tournament Team and NCAA West First All-Star Team honors.[5] Ballard was also one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the NCAA's top men's ice hockey player (it was awarded to Junior Lessard of the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs).[13][14] The Golden Gophers failed to defend their national championship, however, losing their regional final to Minnesota-Duluth.[15]

Ballard left the Golden Gophers seventh all-time among team defensemen with 33 goals.[16] He was also the 74th player in team history to notch 100 points,[15] which also ranked him 11th among defensemen.[16]

Phoenix Coyotes (2004–08)

Ballard was selected in the first round, 11th overall, by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. The choice was seen as a surprise by draft observers, as he was projected to be a late first-round to second-round pick.[1][17][18] Ballard himself professed the early selection to be unexpected, saying he was ready to be drafted between the 20th and 40th positions.[1] Scouting reports listed him as a puck-rushing offensive defenceman with comparisons to Phil Housley.[18] Before making his NHL debut, he was traded twice. He was initially dealt by Buffalo to the Colorado Avalanche on July 3, 2003, for Steven Reinprecht.[19] The following year, he was traded again to the Phoenix Coyotes, along with defenseman Derek Morris, for forward Chris Gratton, defenseman Ossi Väänänen and a second-round selection in the 2005 draft.[20]

Ballard signed with Phoenix a year later to an entry-level contract worth an annual $1.2 million over three years, including bonuses.[13] With his NHL contract, he decided to forgo his senior year of college hockey. The decision was spurred by his performance at the 2004 World Championships with Team USA, competing with NHL veterans.[13] Ballard indicated that he would only leave the University of Minnesota if he was offered the maximum allowable contract for a rookie, as designated by the collective bargaining agreement of the time, which he received.[16]

A Caucasian ice hockey player standing relaxed on the ice. He wears a white, visored helmet and a white and orange jersey. He holds his stick on the ice lightly with one hand.

Ballard in his first season with the Panthers

Due to the NHL lockout, he made his professional debut in the AHL with the Coyotes' minor league affiliate, the Utah Grizzlies in 2004–05. He notched two goals and 20 points over 60 games in his professional rookie campaign. As NHL resumed play the following season, Ballard played his first game with the Coyotes on October 5, 2005, against the Vancouver Canucks. He scored his first NHL goal in his debut, beating goaltender Dan Cloutier.[21] Ballard finished with 8 goals and 39 points as a rookie; both remain career highs. He led all NHL defensemen in shorthanded goals with three.[22] Ballard was sidelined for 13 games in his second NHL season due to a bone fracture in his hand, suffered while blocking a shot during a game on October 9, 2006.[23] He went on to record 27 points in 69 games. In the off-season, he was re-signed on August 29, 2007, to a two-year contract.[24] In 2007–08, Ballard recorded a career-low 21 points.

Florida Panthers (2008–10)

During the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, he was dealt, along with defenseman Nick Boynton and a second-round pick in the draft, to the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Olli Jokinen.[25] Upon trading for Ballard, Florida head coach Jacques Martin heralded him as the club's number-two defenseman, behind Jay Bouwmeester.[25] Prior to the 2008–09 season, Ballard signed a six-year, $25.2 million contract extension with the Panthers.[26] The deal came with a season remaining on his existing contract, previously signed with the Coyotes.[26]

Ballard (left) stands with Canucks teammates Alex Edler and Henrik Sedin.

Ballard went on to tally 34 points during his first campaign with Florida in 2008–09. The following season, on November 30, 2009, Ballard was involved in an on-ice incident that injured his own teammate, goaltender Tomáš Vokoun. After being on the ice for a goal during a game against the Atlanta Thrashers, Ballard aimed to smash his stick against the post and mistakenly hit Vokoun in the mask. Vokoun was taken from the ice on a stretcher and suffered a cut on his ear that required stitches;[27] he missed two games before returning to the lineup.[28] Ballard, who apologized to Vokoun following the game, was not disciplined by the Panthers or NHL.[29] He went on to match his career-high eight goals and added 20 assists for 28 points in his second season with the Panthers. He also ranked third in the league in blocked shots with 201.[30] Ballard had played parts of the season with a hip injury.[31] After completing the campaign, he underwent the second hip surgery of his career in May 2010 to repair a stress fracture and remove a cyst.[31]

Vancouver Canucks (from 2010)

On June 25, 2010, during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Ballard was traded to the Vancouver Canucks along with Victor Oreskovich, for Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, and Vancouver's first round pick, the 25th overall selection, used to select Quinton Howden.[32] After spending two months of the off-season on crutches while recovering from surgery, he reported to the Canucks' training camp, but struggled in the pre-season.[31] Four games into the regular season, he suffered a concussion after being hit into the boards by Los Angeles Kings forward Brad Richardson on October 16, 2010.[33] He was subsequently sidelined for five games.[5] Upon returning to the lineup, however, his play continued to struggle. Averaging 13 minutes of ice time a game, he was eventually taken out of the lineup for four games in November by Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault.[34] It marked the first time in his career he was a healthy scratch.[34] After being re-insterted into the lineup, he scored his first goal as a Canuck in a 6–1 win against the San Jose Sharks on November 26.[35] Several months later, Ballard suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee during a game against the Ottawa Senators on February 7, 2011. The injury resulted from opposing forward Milan Michalek tripping him from behind, which Canucks general manager Mike Gillis pointed out did not occur anywhere near the puck, alluding to the play as illegal and disrespectable.[36] Ballard finished his first regular season with career lows in games played (65), goals (2), assists (5), points (7) and average ice time per game (15 minutes and 14 seconds). His individual struggles came amidst a franchise record season for the Canucks, who won the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's regular season champion for the first time in team history. Entering the playoffs as the first seed in the West, the Canucks advanced past the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks to qualify for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Facing the Boston Bruins, Vancouver lost the Stanley Cup in Game 7. Over the team's 25 playoff games, Ballard dressed for 10. Playing only one game of the final two rounds, he droppd in the depth chart behind Aaron Rome and rookie Chris Tanev.

International play

Medal record

Ballard during the 2008 IIHF World Championship
Competitor for Flag of the United States.png United States of America
Ice hockey
IIHF World Championship
Bronze 2004 Czech Republic

Ballard made his international debut with Team USA at the 2000 IIHF World U18 Championships in Switzerland. He was named to the squad while playing in the National Under-18 Development Program for the 1999–2000 season. He contributed a goal and an assist in six games, as the United States finished in eighth place.[37] Two years later, Ballard was named to the under-20 squad for the 2001 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic. He played in seven games, recording a goal and an assist. The United States lost in the quartefinal to Russia and went on to place in fifth after defeating Sweden 3–2 in a consolation match.[38]

Following his third year with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Ballard debuted with the United States men's team for the 2004 World Championships in the Czech Republic. He was named to the squad after forward Scott Gomez withdrew himself due to personal reasons.[39] As the lone NCAA player on the national squad,[13] he helped the United States to a bronze medal finish.[40] His lone goal of the tournament and first career goal in men's international competition came during a 7–1 round-robin win against Ukraine.[41]

Three years later, Ballard began a three-year stretch of consecutive appearances at the World Championships. He recorded an international career-high three assists at the 2007 tournament in Russia, as the United States were eliminated in a 5–4 shootout loss to Finland in the quarterfinal.[42] Competing in Quebec City and Halifax, Canada, the following year, Ballard recorded two assists in five games while ranking seventh among team defensemen in average ice time per game.[43] The United States finished in sixth place, losing in the quarterfinal to Finland.[44] Ballard made his second bronze medal game appearance with the United States at the 2009 IIHF World Championship in Switzerland, but lost to Sweden by a 4–2 score.[45] He contributed a goal and two assists in nine games while ranking second on the squad in plus-minus with a +3 rating and sixth among team defensemen in average ice time per game.[46]

Playing style

Ballard is a two-way defenseman, capable of contributing both offensively and defensively. Known for his hard hitting, specifically with hip checks,[47] he led his club in hits during his first five years in the NHL.[48][49][50][51][52] He is also proficient in shot-blocking.[53] Offensively, Ballard is noted as a good skater, making him able to start plays from the defensive zone.[18] He has a reputation as a player with intensity and a competitive edge.[9]

Personal life

Ballard was born in Baudette, Minnesota, to parents Steve and Joanne.[54] He has a sister, Jessie.[54] His family runs a fishing resort at Lake of the Woods in Minnesota, founded by Ballard's grandparents in 1961.[54]

Ballard left home following his sophomore year of high school to pursue his hockey career with the U.S. National Development Team in Ann Arbour, Michigan.[54] During his time with the Omaha Lancers, he graduated from Millard North High School in Omaha, Nebraska.[4] He was a multi-sport athlete during high school career, having earned an All-Conference selection as a [fullback and linebacker playing football and finishing as Conference championship runner-up as a golfer.[1][4]

Ballard and his wife have a daughter who was born in May 2010.[55]

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1999–00 U.S. National Development Team USHL 58 12 21 33 119
2000–01 Omaha Lancers USHL 56 22 29 51 168 10 1 6 7 8
2001–02 Minnesota Golden Gophers WCHA 41 10 13 23 42
2002–03 Minnesota Golden Gophers WCHA 45 12 29 41 78
2003–04 Minnesota Golden Gophers WCHA 37 11 25 36 83
2004–05 Utah Grizzlies AHL 60 2 18 20 88
2005–06 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 82 8 31 39 99
2006–07 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 69 5 22 27 59
2007–08 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 82 6 15 21 85
2008–09 Florida Panthers NHL 82 6 28 34 72
2009–10 Florida Panthers NHL 82 8 20 28 88
2010–11 Vancouver Canucks NHL 65 2 5 7 53 10 0 0 0 6
NHL totals 462 35 121 156 456 10 0 0 0 6


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
2000 United States U18 6 1 1 2 4
2002 United States WJC 7 1 1 2 4
2004 United States WC 8 1 0 1 2
2007 United States WC 7 0 3 3 16
2008 United States WC 5 0 2 2 16
2009 United States WC 9 1 2 3 2
Junior int'l totals 13 2 2 4 8
Senior int'l totals 29 2 7 9 36


Award Year
USHL All-Star Game 2001[3]
USHL First Team All-Star 2001[2]
NCAA national title (with Minnesota Golden Gophers) 2002 and 2003[7][8]
WCHA All-Rookie Team 2002[5]
WCHA All-Academic Team 2003[4]
University of Minnesota Scholar Athlete 2003[4]
WCHA Final Five All-Tournament Team 2003[4]
WCHA First All-Star Team 2004[5]
WCHA All-Tournament Team 2004[5]
NCAA West First All-American Team 2004[5]
John Mariucci Award (Minnesota Golden Gophers MVP) 2004[12]
Hobey Baker Award finalist 2004[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "There's More To Come: Sophomore Defenseman Keith Ballard", University of Minnesota, 2002-11-28. Retrieved on 2010-08-22. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Steve Allspach. "Muskies go to Lincoln for first two games of playoff series", Sioux City Journal, 2001-03-30. Retrieved on 2010-08-07. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jason Shaner. "2001 USHL All-Star/Prospects Game", Hockey's Future, 2001-02-01. Retrieved on 2010-08-07. 
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 "Keith Ballard Bio", University of Minnesota. Retrieved on 2010-08-22. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Keith Ballard. The Sports Network. Retrieved on 2010-08-07.
  6. Associated Press. "Gophers win first national title in 23 years", ESPN, 2002-04-06. Retrieved on 2010-08-22. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 2002 NCAA Tournament. Inside College Hockey. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  8. 8.0 8.1 2003 NCAA Tournament. Inside College Hockey. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Going Insane: Junior Defenseman Keith Ballard", University of Minnesota, 2004-02-05. Retrieved on 2010-08-22. 
  10. "Keith Ballard and Thomas Vanek Named ACHA All-Americans", University of Minnesota. Retrieved on 2004-04-06. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "A Look Back at the Career of Keith Ballard",, 2004-06-14. Retrieved on 2010-08-05. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Keith Ballard Named MVP of Golden Gopher Men's Hockey Team", University of Minnesota, 2004-05-07. Retrieved on 2010-08-22. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Associated Press. "Team USA stint primes Ballard for NHL", ESPN, 2004-06-08. Retrieved on 2010-08-03. 
  14. "Keith Ballard Named Finalist for 2004 Hobey Baker Memorial Award", University of Minnesota, 2004-03-17. Retrieved on 2010-08-22. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 2004 NCAA Tourmament. Inside College Hockey. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "Keith Ballard Signs with Phoenix Coyotes", University of Minnesota, 2004-06-07. Retrieved on 2010-08-22. 
  17. Ken McKenna. "Sabres Report: 2002 Draft Review, Part 1", Hockey's Future, 2002-06-24. Retrieved on 2010-08-19. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Kevin Allen. "Blue Jackets trade up to take Nash No. 1", USA Today, 2002-06-21. Retrieved on 2010-08-19. 
  19. Flames acquire Reinprecht, Warrener. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (2003-07-03). Retrieved on 2010-06-28.
  20. Avalanche acquire Salo, Gratton. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (2004-03-09). Retrieved on 2010-06-25.
  21. One Time Only. Vancouver Canucks (2010-11-23). Retrieved on 2010-11-25.
  22. Shorthanded Goals. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2010-09-18.
  23. Associated Press. "Ballard out with bone fracture", ESPN, 2006-10-10. Retrieved on 2010-08-05. 
  24. "Coyotes re-sign Keith Ballard", Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007-08-29. Retrieved on 2010-08-05. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 Dan Rosen. "Phoenix lands Jokinen, trades Boynton, Ballard", National Hockey League, 2008-06-21. Retrieved on 2010-08-05. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Keith Ballard commits to Panthers for $25.2M", Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved on 2010-08-03. 
  27. No hard feelings after Vokoun injured by teammate's swing. The Canadian Press. The Sports Network (2009-12-01). Retrieved on 2010-02-01.
  28. Tomas Vokoun. The Sports Network. Retrieved on 2010-08-03.
  29. Associated Press. "Panthers' Ballard apologizes to injured teammate Vokoun", USA Today, 2009-12-02. Retrieved on 2010-08-21. 
  30. Player Stats - 2009-2010 - Regular Season - All Skaters - Real-Time Stats - Blocked Shots. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2010-08-07.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Iain MacIntyre. "Ballard adjusting to a new life, a new team and a new body part", The Vancouver Sun, 2010-09-27. Retrieved on 2010-11-25. 
  32. "Florida Deals D Ballard To Vancouver", National Hockey League, 2010-06-25. Retrieved on 2010-06-25. 
  33. Ben Kuzma. "Canucks struggle to find the mark as they bow to Kings 4–1", The Province, 2010-10-16. Retrieved on 2010-11-25. 
  34. 34.0 34.1 "Nothing but bad luck for Ballard", The Province, 2010-11-24. Retrieved on 2010-11-25. 
  35. "Samuelsson scores twice, Canucks rout Sharks", The Sports Network, 2010-11-26. Retrieved on 2010-11-27. 
  36. "Ballard: leg feels better than expected; out with MCL sprain", The Sports Network, 2011-02-08. Retrieved on 2011-02-08. 
  37. Final Ranking. International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2010-08-08.
  38. Play Off Round Position 1-8. International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2010-08-08.
  39. "Keith Ballard Named to United States Roster for 2004 IIHF World Championships", University of Minnesota, 2004-04-25. Retrieved on 2010-08-22. 
  40. 2004 IIHF World Championship. International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2010-08-08.
  41. Game Summary (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2010-08-08.
  42. Tournament Progress (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2010-08-08.
  43. Player Statistics By Team (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2010-08-08.
  44. Final Rankings (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2010-08-08.
  45. Tournament Progress (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2010-08-09.
  46. Player Statistics By Team (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2010-08-09.
  47. Mason Kelley. "Ballard's big hit recalls lost art of the hip check", Sun-Sentinel, 2009-04-07. Retrieved on 2010-08-21. 
  48. 2005-06 - Hits. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2010-08-21.
  49. 2006-07 - Hits. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2010-08-21.
  50. 2007-08 - Hits. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2010-08-21.
  51. 2008-09 - Hits. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2010-08-21.
  52. 2009-10 - Hits. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2010-08-21.
  53. "Ballard traded to Canucks in five-player swap", National Hockey League, 2010-06-25. Retrieved on 2010-08-21. 
  54. 54.0 54.1 54.2 54.3 "Inside the Panthers: Keith Ballard", National Hockey League, 2009-11-11. Retrieved on 2010-08-19. 
  55. Jason Botchford. "Ballard excited to play in big hockey market", National Post, 2010-06-28. Retrieved on 2010-08-05. 

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Preceded by
Jiří Novotný
Buffalo Sabres first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Daniel Paille
This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Keith Ballard. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).