Flames Top 15 Prospects 2013: #14 Michael Ferland

The last time we did this, Michael Ferland was coming off a career season with the Brandon Wheat Kings and was one of the top scorers in the Western Hockey league. As a result, he was ranked as the Flames 7th best prospect by FN at the time.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, however, pro hockey is the great weeder course in a prospects development path and is the primary hurdle many hopefuls tend to stumble at. So although he is already "pro sized" at 6’1", 210 pounds, and known for a rough style of play, Ferland was nevertheless overwhelmed by the pro game like so many kids tend to be.

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  Justin Ryan Kent Hayley BoL
Ferland 15  NR  NR 10 12

 The 21-year old rookie showed up at training camp out of shape and dogged by a charge of aggravated assault after a summer bar brawl last year. A frequent healthy scratch, he only played seven games for the Heat and another three games in the ECHL (managing just one assist between them) before being sent back to the WHL as an overager. Ferland eventually found his footing again with the Saskatoon Blades scoring eight goals and 29 assists in 26 games down the stretch.

The fact that he was rebuffed so completely by the pro game is unfortunately a huge red mark and step backwards for the youngster. Part tough guy, part power forward, Ferland’s package of skills is highly coveted at the NHL level: a big guy who can play hard and drop the gloves, but still has enough skill to put up points is a creature every GM and coach wishes for.

However, the professional hockey takes a huge physical and mental toll on players relative to the lower levels and some guys never develop the level of character, hockey sense or discipline it requires to succeed. Ferland seemed primed to step right into the AHL after a glowing season in junior last September, but instead he fell on his face.

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Which isn’t to say the big left winger can’t get things going in the right direction this year. Now that he’s 21, junior hockey is no longer an option so there’s no safety net should he fail to make an impression with Troy Ward again. Ferland has the benefit of time, size and a decent junior resume but I doubt his career with the Flames will survive another another trip over the first hurdle.

If Ferland is to be a prospect of note going forward, he has to not only be a full-time AHLer next year, but an impact AHLer at that. We’ll see if he’s up to the challenge.

Flames top 15 prospects


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    • SmellOfVictory

      Likewise. I wasn’t expecting him to tear it up, but I also wasn’t expecting him to completely wash out last season. And it wasn’t unwarranted, either; I watched the Heat diligently during the lockout, and he did look fully overwhelmed 90% of the time.

  • T&A4Flames

    Hopefully he and Howse use the info provided to them by the Flames trainers for a healthy lifestyle and come to camp ready to compete. Howse is on strike 2 if he hasn’t already struck out with the Flames brass.

  • Bikeit

    How is Ferlands skating and foot speed? That is usually the main deal breaker to the pro game. Generally many like him can learn the Pro game, but not if you can’t keep up.

    • SmellOfVictory

      He was a decent speed (faster than Nemisz, at least). The main thing was just that he tended to look overwhelmed/lost on the ice; I think he was used to running over teenagers in Junior, and had trouble adjusting to a level where the average guy is often the same size as/bigger than he is and more developed overall.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I can appreciate how difficult it is to make these rankings. When ranking players against each other who play at different levels not to mention leagues seems like a daunting task.

    Case in point Ferland. Last year, as a non pro, he’s ranked top 10. This year with his obvious troubles at AHL and ECHL (I think???) he went back to junior and resumed the kind of play from last year but he’s 14. One year. One monumental year-playing pro.

    Now comparing him to guys like Gaudreau, Janko, Seiloff etc who haven’t had the ‘weeder effect’ of pro hockey surely makes things difficult.

    Factor in different ages, different stages of physical development, different types of players. It’s hard to get a read on the prospects. I guess you just have to see how they fare in the pros before you can truly judge them. Then the more sophisticated analysis can be done. If they make it that far at all

    • Yeah. We can only really react to information we have which is the issue. Many guys look like quality prospects until they hit the pros (Wahl is a recent example), but you only really know who can hang there with men when they get there.

  • SmellOfVictory

    So far I am 2 for 2 in being in complete disagreement with the rankings. Ferland doesn’t crack my top 15.

    Not only did he wash out in pro but he also failed to come anywhere near the pace he set in junior the year before. Not to mention he was almost invisible in the playoffs (so far).

    I get why he cracked the top 10 a season ago but Ferland took a massive step back this season. Plus the Flames have added Jankowski, Sieloff, Cundari, and Agostino to their roster and I have them all ranked ahead of Felrad. Also, Arnold, Wotherspoon, and Breen have done enough to pass him in the charts IMO.

    Ferland is still on the radar. But I need to see a big step forward from him. Otherwise I am going to start thinking of him as a Ryan Howse or Bryan Cameron.

  • seve927

    This is the main reason I can’t understand the Jankowski ranking. I couldn’t imagine Ferland ahead of him. BoL and Hayley have Janko unranked, but Ferland 10 and 12?


    • I can’t speak for anybody else, but aside from being NHL sized right now, Ferland has actually accomplished something notable at this point in his career (a big junior season).

      His faceplant in pro took him off my radar altogether, but I understand why he’d still have more weight than Janko. Aside from being picked in the first round, the younger guy hasn’t really done anything worth talking about at all.

      • SmellOfVictory

        Fair, but it’s worth noting that Ferland’s (roughly) age-equivalent season to Jankowski’s most recent season had him posting a point-per-game in the CHL. Admittedly, still a better offensive season than Jankowski from a raw scoring perspective, but given the context of their situations (5 months older, second season in the league) I don’t think it’s really any better.

        • An NHLE of 24 versus Janko’s of 18.

          That’s not anything special at all and, as you say, it can be a bit easier for a teen in his second season to get ice time in the WHL versus a rookie in college. Still, it’s better.

          I ranked Jankowski ahead of Ferland personally, but that’s the fun of consensus ranking.

          • Colin.S

            This is the one time NHLE isn’t something I’d use to say one prospect could/should be rated higher than the other.

            Ferland is over a year and a half older than Jankowski, playing in what would be his FOURTH season in the WHL, while Jankowski is playing his FIRST in College. Not even taking into account the circumstances each played in, PP time, line combinations, line mates, coaches preferred play style and so on and so forth.

            Than going back to this article from FN: http://flamesnation.ca/2013/5/8/top-30-draft-prospect-nhl-equivalencies

            Ferlands NHLE would put him into the same company as some people potentially being picked in the first round or early second, and I could make a decent sized bet he wouldn’t be taken any where near that.

            What this current year only shows us is that all hope is not currently lost on Ferland, if Ferland couldn’t put up big points in junior there would pretty be ZERO hope for him. However until he can show it at another level that’s not playing against 17/18/19 year olds, I don’t have much hope.

  • seve927

    “Ferland eventually found his footing again with the Saskatoon Blades scoring eight goals and 29 assists in 21 games down the stretch”

    I think these numbers got a little mixed up. He had 8 goals and 21 assists in 26 games with Saskatoon, another 2 points in 4 games with Brandon.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I had ferland at 15 entirely because of his poor pro showing.

    we know he can put up points at the junior level, but not being able to make the jump really put him back in my eyes.

  • Colin.S

    I couldn’t disagree with this more, I’d put Chris Breen well ahead of this guy, this guy is so far from making the show. He’s great in junior where he is bigger and stronger than all his competitors, however once he went a level higher he disappeared. If he can’t even make the smallest of impact at the ahl level, how can anyone think him an NHL prospect.

    I know I was big on him once he left junior, but this past year should show anyone how far he is from the show, no way should this kid be ranked ahead of Jankowski.

    • Colin.S

      Ditto. He didn’t even get a whiff of my top 15. If he comes back & has any kind of success at the AHL level, then we can start discussing him as a top 15 “NHL” prospect. How he is ahead of Janko just makes me shake my head. At this point i’ll just pour me a Crown & start the BBQ.

  • BurningSensation

    My problem isn’t with where Ferland is ranked or why, but more with having Jankowski ranked after him.

    I was really pulling for him to take off last year and become our power forward of the future, but like everyone else was disappointed with his regression.

    That all said, if his issues are really just conditioning and comfort level against pros, things like that are correctable with effort, and he may still bloom into an all round force.

    Also, big guys take longer, and don’t always develop in a straight line.

    Fingers crossed!

  • Colin.S

    I wonder what sort of circumstances Ward gave him?

    Ward is the type of coach where if you show up out of shape you may as well go home then and there – and rightfull so.

    Lots of guys get a rude awakening to the pro game, so that in and of itself doesn’t bother me. But to echo many here, a huge step is definitely needed.

    Given his summer incident and conditioning, I wonder if Ferland has some off-ice ‘issues’ that need addressing. And this is where development plays such a huge role. I can’t believe people are knocking a prospect for being big and strong. His skating isn’t elite, but it’s adequate IMO. So, he has the tools, now it’s up to the team to help him find the tool box.

    As far as I’m concerned they need to be there, in person, and on this guy. “You WILL be clean and sober and eat like Gary Roberts. You WILL train like a Navy SEAL and get your arse in shape, you WILL be faster and stronger than you’ve ever been, you WILL watch video and correct your mistakes and work on your skills, if you have a problem you WILL attend counselling religiously, etc.” And then follow up, constantly.

    Give him a detailed, daily, poin-by-point plan. If he has no interest in followin git, you know right there that he’s a loser and you can cut him loose. If he dedicates himself, like I said, he has the tools.

    No one expects Ferland to be a scorer in the NHL, but if he can be Jackman-plus than he holds a lot of value for the team.

    But if you’re the Flames, don’t just wait and see what happens. Kick him in the @$$ and give him a reality check.

    There’s zero point in drfating guys and then just leaving them to their own devices.

  • Colin.S

    He will have to do some things to stand out as 4rth liner while workingextra on his skills in hopes of moving up the depth chart. He needs to crash bodies drop the mitts and get to the net hard in order to get noticed and show he wants it. That is the unique skill set be possesses now and needs to showcase it.

  • So many former Flames still playing in the NHL playoffs. This joke of a franchise is doomed for total failure and for a long, long time to come.

    I would even venture to say the Flames will barely flicker for as long as they remain in Calgary. Especially under the joke of an ownership group that’s currently running this clown show.

  • EddyBeers

    So St.Louis is out. Tried to figure out where the first round pick Calgary acquired from them would be. I realize you have to wait for the first round to end to know for sure, but what’s the approximate range? Any ideas?

    • Colin.S

      If no other top seeds fall than the STL pick would be 21 I believe. If either ANA, BOS or PIT fail to advance that number would go one lower for each of those teams failing to go to the second round.

    • NHL93

      Vanc, Mont were both division winners & were both eliminated, so their picks are “after Stlouis. Therefore, if Anaheim or Wash or Pitt all win, we are picking 20th! So really, theoretically, if NYI, Det & NYR win their series, that would mean we could pick as low as 17th if the stars aligned. Someone correct me if I’m wrong about this, but in that scenario, only Minny & loser of Toronto or Boston would pick before us.

      • T&A4Flames

        The 2nd round still matters. If all of the division leaders are out by round 2 our pick is better I believe.

        #30 to the SCC

        #29 to runner up

        #27-28 to conference finalists

        #26 down goes to div winners by regular season points that haven’t qualified for conf finals.

        The rest down to #15 to non div winners that made post season.

        I’m pretty sure about this.

  • I didn’t have Ferland on my list, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Between his legal problems and the NHL lockout bouncing him between three different leagues, he never really got his feet underneath him this season.

    If he gets out of the gates slow in September, though, then he’s in trouble.

  • NHL93

    What about giving this kid the chance to play a larger role in the ECHL before promoting him to the AHL next season? Make his development a little more gradual, or is that not the way to go? I know he bombed in the E last year, but life is defined by failure and this kid should really relish the opportunity to seize a second chance not everybody gets.

    Ah, whatever, this kid is probably doomed to never play in the bigs.

    Man, I’m fickle.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Third party information that I got (so take it with a grain of salt), is that Ferland is lazy. During his first stint in the WHL, he would expect his billets to do everything for him, instead of learning to do things for himself. He never learned to cook, clean, do laundry for himself. I believe this to be true, and may this explain why he showed up to camp out of shape.
    It’s easy to forget how lost a young guy can be when he has to live on his own for the first time, but in Ferland’s case I doubt the Flames will wait for Strike 3.