Keith Ballard

Ballard: ‘Minnesota makes sense’ after Canucks buyout


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….


Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.