Move clears up salary-cap room in advance of Monday trade deadline

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VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks have taken a step to clear some salary-cap room before Monday's NHL trade deadline.

The Canucks placed defenceman Keith Ballard on long-term injured reserve as he deals with a neck injury and concussion symptoms. A team spokesman confirmed the move Saturday, adding coach Alain Vigneault had also verified it.

According to Capgeek.com, a website that tracks teams' spending in relation to the salary cap, the move gives the Canucks US$4.6 million to spend on a trade-deadline acquisition.

The request to put Ballard on long-term injured reserve had to be approved by the league. Ballard, a 29-year-old American, has remained in Vancouver during the team's six-game road trip, which still has two games remaining in Dallas on Sunday and Phoenix on Tuesday.

He has missed nine games and last played Feb. 7 in Nashville. He experienced a sore neck while playing and Vigneault indicated Ballard's concussion symptoms became more bothersome later.

Sitting first overall before Saturday's games with a 40-16-0-6 mark, the Canucks have few immediate needs at the deadline. However, Ballard's injury gives them the option of going after a high-priced player.

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