Keith Ballard could be heading home.
The Minnesota native — soon to be officially bought out by the Vancouver Canucks — has received interest from the Wild and told the Star-Tribune he’d like to return to the place where he played collegiately.
“Minnesota’s an option,” Ballard explained. “I think for me Minnesota makes sense, that I’m familiar with the guys, obviously that I live here, that I train with some of the guys during the offseason.”
The 30-year-old defenseman could be a replacement for Tom Gilbert, who the Wild are buying out today.
As for the blueline makeup, Minnesota currently has five guys under contract for next season — Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Clayton Stoner, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser — with a new deal still required for RFA Jared Spurgeon.
Minnesota could also get 2012 first-rounder Mathew Dumba in the mix, though he doesn’t turn 19 until late July and only has a handful of AHL experience.
In the end, fitting Ballard in might come down to what he’s willing to accept.
The Wild are tight to the ceiling — $6.4 million in available space, according to CapGeek — and Ballard may have to take a reduced dollar figure with shorter term to get his ideal fit.
He said that’s not a problem.
“It’s not me looking to go play somewhere for a couple years and ride off into the sunset and have a little cash along the way and call it a day,” he said. “I think I have a lot of years left in me.
“But this is an important year for me, so it’s going to be what fits the best.”
Here’s more, from the Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo….
— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) July 4, 2013