Flames Prospect Profiles: Michael Ferland

 

 

Recently named the Flames 7th best prospect by FN, I figured it was time to share the details of Michael Ferland’s break-out season with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

When the Flames picked Ferland in the 5th round back in 2010, they were doing what they had done a lot under Sutter – chose a WHL born and bred kid who knew how to play the game the tough, prairie boy way. There didn’t seem to be much more to the selection at the time – Ferland had almost four times as many penalty minutes as points for Brandon that season.

Over the next two seasons, however, Ferland has become more than merely a long-shot tough guy to a prospect who has a legitimate shot at becoming a major leaguer. In 2010-11 he managed 23 goals and 56 points in 56 games and then followed that up with his 96-point outburst this year. That is a nice, steep progression for the Brandon Manitoba native and while it’s unlikely he will become a notable scorer in the NHL, it means he has a few more skills than just a willingness to drop the gloves.

Like Max Reinhart and Sven Baertschi, I have broken down Ferland’s output from this year into even strength and powerplay points as well as percentage of team offense:

  • Total points: 96
  • Points-per-game: 1.41
  • Powerplay points: 39
  • Even strength points: 54
  • Total team offense: 260
  • ES%: 56.3%
  • PP%: 40.6%
  • TEAM%: 36.9%
  • NHLE: 34.7

In this instance, parsing out Ferland’s points give us a clearer picture of the player and how he was able to take such a big step forward – he was more reliant on the PP for scoring than either Reinhart and Baertschi and scored a lower percentage of his team’s total offense than either of those guys as well (even though he managed almost 20 more points than Reinhart).

As mentioned in our previous article on him last week, Ferland spent the season with WHL leading point-getter Mark Stone and clearly those two were given a lot offensive ice time. As a result, Ferland’s numbers are probably somewhat misleading. Which isn’t to say his offensive contributions should be discounted completely, just that anyone expecting Ferland to carry on an equivalent output into pro is likely to be disappointed. 

Conclusion

Michael is a guy I remember from the Flames last prospect tournament. His skating and hockey IQ stood out in a good way, which was surprising at the time given how limited his upside seemed. Corey Pronman seemed to agree with me:

Whenever I reach out to WHL scouts, Ferland is the type of prospect who they come at me with "fourth-liner at best". However, whenever I’ve seen him in the WHL, or in this instance at the rookie camps, he shows flashes of something beyond that in terms of skills and sense that make me think that while he may not be a top-six player, there’s certainly something to this player beyond just intangibles.

Taken together, the picture one gets of Ferland is a third liner whose upside is somewhere between Lance Bouma and Max Reinhart. If he can maintain some measure of his offensive acumen while continuing to do the things that got him drafted in the first place, Ferland may become a useful bottom-end guy for Calgary down the road.

  • beloch

    Sorry to hijack things a little, but here’s a question I have for the puck-heads out there.

    How good has Clint Malarchuk been?

    Kipper put in a decidedly mediocre season in 2010/2011. In the three seasons previous to that he beat the league average SV% just once. In 2011/2012 Kipper put in one of his better seasons. How much of that could be attributed to a new goalie coach? Do goalie coaches in general have a detectable impact i.e. Can you follow a good (or bad) goalie coach around and see a statistically significant impact on the performance of the goalies he coaches?

    I’m bringing this up now since it might well be academic in a couple of weeks!

  • Leland Irving had a LOT of positive things to say about Malarchuk, but last season was also the first season that the Heat had a dedicated goalie coach, another thing Irving said helped him improve and transition to the NHL.

    So in summation, Irving’s NHL performances (Boston not-withstanding) could be because of anybody.

  • RexLibris

    Interesting.

    I may be mis-remembering things here, but in many of the conversations I had during the season, it seemed that many fans held high hopes for Ferland.

    I wasn’t aware of Ferland’s earlier season stats, but while the progression is encouraging, I would be worried about its sustainability and the relative veracity of his skill level.

    Players never really progress in a straight line, and given his ascent this past season it would stand to reason that a “market correction” is due at some point.

    His size, work ethic and even strength points are all good indicators that he is a player. I really like your putting him between Reinhart and Bouma in terms of prospect evaluation.

    Good teams draft and develop these players. If the Flames can figure out this much (they haven’t been terribly successful at filling out their bottom six internally and, by my count, they only have three Flames-drafted forwards on the roster) it would go a long way to reviving the franchise.

    Finally, I was wondering what sort of decision-making process will be used to determine who gets to write the Sven Baertschi profile? Is it RPS, drawing straws, or pistols at twenty paces?

  • RexLibris

    I have heard that if Ferland keeps progressing like he has been, he has top 6 power forward potential. He got a very late start and didn’t play rep until Midget. Still a long way to go but he seems to have the desire, smarts and definitely the size. Here’s hoping.

    • That’s true Clyde, Ferland did get a very late start. Sometimes those guys have weird development curves.

      That said, it’s pretty common for junior players to “break out” in their final season because they are older, stronger and better than many of their teenaged cohorts and end on the first unit PP, PK, ES etc.

      I’m guessing that’s the case for Ferland because his situational stats don’t suggest a guy who was suddenly dominating.

      • Truculence

        That;s true. Ferland in terms of size and strength was a man against boys in his last year, but don`t discount his scoring acumen. He has a decent shot, but what he really excels at is driving to the net, deflecting shots, and smoking in rebounds. The kid`s a handful to contain, and will go get the puck from the corners. A lot of people say Ferland benefited by playing with Stone, but vice-versa is also true. Stone is not a gritty player who will win board battles, but more of a set up guy with a decent shot. The space he needed out there was created by Ferland.

        Secondly, when Stone was at the juniors, I recall Ferland maintaining his PPG pace. I may be mistaken and this is something Kent may shed light on, but I remember him being injured before the Juniors, but returning to form when Stone was in the tournament.

        In sum, he`s a solid third-liner with a shot at being a second-liner. Don`t discount this kid`s drive and toughness. He`s the kind of kid who will finish a big check, beat up the kid who comes after him as a consequence, and then score a goal when he gets out of the box.

        I love his game, but he is no Reinhart in the sense that he has good but not great ice-awareness and vision. But you don`t build a team with one type of player and Ferland is really good at what he does.

  • RexLibris

    I have heard that if Ferland keeps progressing like he has been, he has top 6 power forward potential. He got a very late start and didn’t play rep until Midget. Still a long way to go but he seems to have the desire, smarts and definitely the size. Here’s hoping.

  • everton fc

    Ferland is perfect “fodder” for Troy Ward in Abby. Look for Ward to bring Ferland along at an honest, fair clip. My sense if Ferland may get looks next season with the big club, as will Reinhart, but the two will be high-priority developmental projects along with Aliu, who I think the organization is high on.

    Good point on Stone. The other two on Ferland’s line were “smallish”. Ferland certainly made room for his linemates, and plays with an edge. I see him as a project that will produce. Character, drive, toughness… All suited for the NHL, over the smallish, skilled player. My opinion, of course.

    I also get a feeling Ward will make Howse a very reliable AHLer. Ward is a critical component to Feaster’s rebulding program. This is one area I think the Flames are strong.

    As for Malarchuk, Irving… Don’t forget Taylor, who had better games than Irving at points, and similar, if not better stats. He saw a lot of rubber. Proper development and he could be a sleeper.

    They should re-sign him. Taylor, I mean.Dump Karlsson.