VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard will miss three to four weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee after taking a hit during a game against the Ottawa Senators.
Ballard's leg got pinned dangerously under his body Monday night as he fell backward to the ice following a hit by Senators forward Milan Michalek.
Ballard needed help to get up off the ice and hobble to the room but was walking outside the locker rooms at Rogers Arena with only a slight limp Wednesday morning.
"The MRI showed a mild strain and we're looking at around four weeks," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Considering what we saw when you look at the replay, it could have been a lot worse, so I m pretty pleased it's just that."
The 28-year-old Ballard was acquired from the Florida Panthers as the key part of a five-player trade during last summer's draft but hasn't had the expected impact for league-leading Vancouver. He has five points in 42 games and is averaging just 16 minutes of ice time, playing mostly on the Canucks' third pairing.
Vancouver is already missing top defenseman Alex Edler, who had back surgery last week, and rookie Lee Sweatt, who had a goal and assist in his first three NHL games. Sweatt broke his foot in practice Saturday and is out six to eight weeks.
Rookie Chris Tanev, who has been impressive his first eight NHL games, will replace Ballard against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night. Sami Salo was also on his way back Wednesday from a three-game conditioning stint in the AHL after missing the entire season with a torn Achilles tendon.
Salo could play as early as Saturday against the Calgary Flames.