Micheal Ferland had a roller-coaster season.
He made his long-awaited NHL debut on October 31 – his expected call-up last season was postponed by a knee injury – only to get immediately sidelined with a suspected concussion for eight games. Then he played nine games, nearly scoring several times, before being returned to the AHL. He returned to the NHL in February and gradually figured things out as he bounced in and out of the line-up.
And then? He had a playoff run that probably cemented his roster spot for next season. He played 26 regular season games and 9 in the playoffs, and he got better as the season wore on.
Ferland didn’t play 100 even-strength minutes with any one player – he only played 259 5-on-5 minutes all season – so here’s his five most frequent line-mates.
We have some mixed results here for Ferland in his first season dipping his toe in the NHL pond. First of all, that’s fully expected given his general lack of pro experience. But it’s also likely a product of linemates and circumstances. Prior to his playoff performances, primarily playing with Matt Stajan and David Jones, he typically spent a good chunk in a depth role.
In the playoffs, he was used as a physical shutdown presence. In the regular season, he was sheltered and attempted to find his footing at the NHL level. Heck, he scored as many goals (2) and points (4) in 9 playoff games as he did in 26 regular season games. His possession stats weren’t great, but considering his role, his production, and the fact that he was integral to Calgary’s playoff success, this is a case where you can go, “Well, of course they weren’t good numbers!“
Nothing about Micheal Ferland in 2014-15 – his level of experience, his playing style, his physicality – suggests that he should have had strong possession numbers in the first place. However, if he can learn to use that physicality intelligently and separate his opponents from the puck earlier in his shifts, perhaps his possession numbers will improve in short order.
It’s likely that Ferland will begin the 2015-16 season in the NHL. He’s young and cheap. He will require waivers to go down to the AHL, and he definitely won’t clear. He fits Flames management’s “big, physical and talented” mantra, as he’s demonstrably two of those three things – and the jury is out on the third one. He’ll be just 23 years old when the season begins, and his first full professional season was quite good.
If Ferland can bring the same compete level to the regular season as he did to the playoffs, he could be a very valuable full-time addition to the Calgary Flames.