Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Keith Ballard Autograph Card

Keith Ballard is a bizarre case. A gifted offensive defenseman, he is prone to making bad decisions at times, but unlike other offensive defensemen, his bad decisions don't necessarily entail giving the puck away to opponents as much as demonstrate a tendency to react in ways no one else would.

Case in point: late in the 2007-08 season, as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, he had an altercation with a fan at Vancouver's BC Place. This season, while a member of the Florida Panthers, after his team gave up a goal, he accidentally slashed his teammate Tomas Vokoun in the back of the head (he was aiming to break his stick on the cross bar and missed), cutting him at the ear and forcing him to leave on a stretcher; the following game, he ran into Colorado Avalanche goalie (and former teammate) Craig Anderson, whose head hit the goal post rather abruptly.

Such events take away from the attention he should be getting on the ice: in 2005-06, the year this card was released, incidentally, he led all NHL defensemen in shorthanded goals, with 3. Also, a rare feat for a defenseman, he was almost a point-per-game player in both the USHL (with the Omaha Lancers) and NCAA (with the renowned University of Minnesota Golden Gophers).

In the NHL, he has always been a part of strong top-3 or top-4 on the D, but make no mistake about it, he is always a centerpiece, never a side dish, and is killer on the powerplay.

Although the scan doesn't render it justice, this beautiful card from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Ice series (Glacial Graphs sub-set, card # GG-KB) depicting Ballard in his white Coyotes jersey isn't with a white-and-silver background, more like transparent-and-see-through. Its worth is in the high $20s, but when collectors wake up to how spectacular of a talent Ballard actually is, could skyrocket.

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