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Panthers Trade Official, Keith Ballard Off to Vancouver

  Ballard3LOS ANGELES -- After two seasons with the Panthers, Keith Ballard is moving once once more.

The former Phoenix Coyote is off to Vancouver after Dale Tallon traded him west for forward Steve Bernier and the No. 25 pick in tonight's draft.

This trade is not official nor has it been announced. The Canucks could still keep their 25th pick if there is a player they like. If that's the case, Florida gets Vancouver's first pick next year.

This is an obvious salary dump, with Ballard making $4.2 million in each of the next five seasons.

Bernier, who scored 11 goals with 11 assists in 59 games for the Canucks last season, is making $2 million next season and is a restricted free agent in 2011.

Florida also gets Michael Grabner and gives up Victor Oreskovich.

Grabner, a right wing, makes $843,000 (which is a touch more than VicOres) and is a RFA after next season.

While it's a salary move, Bernier is a good player and now Tallon has three picks in the top 25. Look for another move, probably involving moving up in the draft.

The fun is just beginning.

-- Ballard came to the Panthers in 2008 when Jacques Martin sent Olli Jokinen to the Coyotes for Ballard, Nick Boynton (whom the Panthers let go after one season and won the Cup with the Hawks earlier this month) and a draft pick.

-- The Panthers last big trade with the Canucks came in 2006 when Florida sent Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek west for Todd Bertuzzi, Alex Auld and Bryan Allen. The Panthers hope this won works out better than that one.

-- The Panthers will also have a lower salary this coming season than they did in the last. While the Nathan Horton-Dennis Wideman trade was a financial wash, this latest deal cuts $2.2 million. More moves are apparently on the way.

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