Certainly, stories like Michael Ferland’s are not the norm when it comes to kids playing high-level hockey.
In case you were not aware, Ferland got a late start playing competitive hockey, waiting until his teenage years to pull on a sweater for a rep team. Up until that point, he had played pond hockey with his cousins, his single mother lacking the funds to put him in a truly competitive environment.
What I’m saying is that for Ferland to be ranked 7th is nothing short of remarkable.
In his draft year, Ferland was probably selected (5th round of the 2010 draft, 133rd overall) simply because Darryl Sutter likes hard-nosed western boys with size. At least, that’s what you would think simply by looking at the 28 points he compiled in 2010. But Ferland has a late-April birthday, and was 17 for the vast majority of the season (I’m sure the Flames were aware of that fact, but kudos to them if it actually influenced their decision making), so the numbers may have been a bit misleading. In Ferland’s 18-year-old season, he dealt with a few minor injuries, limiting him to just 56 games – but he did well with those 56 games, scoring at a point-per-game pace.
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*Reminder – The evaluators were asked to rank players, and we sorted the rankings via a simple point scale-number 15 on each list got one point, while number 1 on each list got 15. The criteria for who was included was pretty simple: players the Flames control who are 23 and under (excluding Mikael Backlund, since he’s already a bona fide NHLer).
However, this past season is where he started to light it up. Playing with Mark Stone and Brendan Walker on a dangerous Brandon Wheat Kings team, Ferland found the back of the cage 47 times in 2011-2012, and added 49 apples for a total of 96 points. Ferland played in all situations this season for the Wheaties, although admittedly the amount of time he spent on the penalty kill was minimal when compared to the amount of time he spent on the power play. Ferland obviously produced on the power play, scoring 18 PPG, for a distribution of about 61%/39% even strength goals to PP goals. That’s a pretty good ratio.
One thing Ferland’s definitely got going for him is his frame – listed as 6’2, 208 on a couple of websites, that’ll make his jump to the AHL quite a bit easier – not because he’s tall, but because he’s filled out a little more then other kids his age, which generally translates to better stability with the puck.
It seems as though the biggest problem every Flames prospect has is the ability to move around the ice at a rate projectable to the pro level, and that also goes for Ferland. He gets around pretty well for a guy who had exactly 0 power skating lessons before the age of 14, though.
More visibly, though, the “fact” that he’s a late bloomer is probably going to dog him for a while – regardless if that criticism a. is actually accurate or b. demonstrates a real detriment to his developmental curve. Lastly, one must be concerned about “coat tail” syndrome. Stone was one of, if not the, best players in the CHL this year. It may not be coincidence that Ferland’s breakout season came with Stone on his line.
Saying that, I’m inclined to give Ferland quite a bit more slack then I would a guy like Greg Nemisz, both for the grotesque numbers he put up this year as well as the PPG 18-year-old season he compiled playing on a different line then Stone.
Ferland should be joining the Abbotsford Heat this season, and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of impact he has.
|Player||Kent||Justin||WI||Scott||VF||Arik (NC)||Final Rank|