The Vancouver Canucks have placed Keith Ballard on waivers in a likely last attempt at avoiding a buyout on the defenceman.
Canuck general manager Mike Gillis said after the National Hockey League draft on Sunday that no decision had been made on Ballard, who is a depth player but possesses a top-four blueline salary.
If no other NHL team claims him, the Canucks have until Friday to buy him out without it counting against their salary cap.
Ballard has two years remaining on his contract at $4.2 million per season. Buying him out would cost the Canucks $1.4 million in each of the next four years. But if Vancouver exercises its option on one of two "compliance" buyouts each team is entitled to under terms of the NHL's new collective agreement, the payout will not count against the Canucks' salary cap.
Gillis traded for Ballard three years ago, surrendering good prospect Michael Grabner and a first-round draft pick to the Florida Panthers.
But Ballard never established himself as a consistent regular with the Canucks, and although new coach John Tortorella could give the defenceman a fresh start in Vancouver, the team probably can not afford to pay the Minnesotan $4.2 million next season to play on the third defence pairing.
Ballard is on "regular" waivers, which means the team could still choose to keep him if he clears. His waivers expire tomorrow.
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