Canucks acquire Ballard from Panthers in five-player deal Staff

6/25/2010 11:21:33 PM

The Vancouver Canucks have acquired defenceman Keith Ballard and right wing prospect Victor Oreskovich from the Florida Panthers in exchange for forwards Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner, and Vancouver's 2010 first round draft pick (25th overall - Quinton Howden).

The 27-year old Ballard should give the Canucks some additional offensive punch from the back-end and could well signify that Willie Mitchell's days with the Canucks are over.

The Baudette, Minnesota native is coming off a season in which he scored eight goals and 20 assists while putting up a minus -7 rating over 82 games. Ballard is under contract for five more seasons at $4.2 million per year, after signing a six-year contract extension with the Panthers in September 2009.

Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1st round (11th overall) in 2002, Ballard has also spent time with the Avalanche, Coyotes and Panthers.

Also coming to Vancouver is Oreskovich, who just completed his rookie season and had two goals and four assists in 50 games for Florida. He was originally drafted in the second round of the 2004 draft by the Colorado Avalanche.

Bernier, 25, had 11 goals and 11 assists last season in 59 games with the Canucks. The left winger signed a two-year deal with Vancouver prior to last season and will earn $2 million in 2010-11.

Grabner, 22, split last season between the Canucks and the AHL's Manitoba Moose. In 20 NHL games, he counted five goals and six assists. He was Vancouver's first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2006 draft.