Johnny Gaudreau, Josh Jooris, Markus Granlund, Micheal Ferland, rookie impressions, and their futures

Previously, I looked at Flames sophomores, and how their second years compared to their firsts. That’s leaving out another young group, though: a group composing entirely of first years, all of whom hopefully have promising careers ahead of them.

This past season, four Flames forwards lost their rookie status. Johnny Gaudreau played 80 games, Josh Jooris 60, Markus Granlund 48, and Micheal Ferland 26: all enough to officially make them sophomores for the 2015-16 season, whether they spend it in the NHL or not. Of the four, Granlund is the only one to have played earlier, but his seven games from 2013-14 weren’t enough to count.

In one way or another, the four made names for themselves throughout the season. Gaudreau was the best rookie of the year, and will hopefully soon receive a trophy proclaiming him as such. Ferland stole the show and had a league-wide spotlight shown on him for the first round of the playoffs, and became a public enemy for a divisional rival. Jooris and Granlund are less heralded, but Flames fans certainly know who they are by this point.

So, how’d they do? And what’s next?

Offensive potential

There were a lot of questions as to where the scoring was going to come from this past season, and with no established offensive superstars, justifiably so. With 11 10-goal scorers, though, that question got answered handily: depth would lead the way. Depth, including the occasional youngster.

Goals Assists Points Games Points per game
Johnny Gaudreau 24 40 64 80 .80
Josh Jooris 12 12 24 60 .40
Markus Granlund 8 10 18 48 .38
Micheal Ferland 2 3 5 26 .19

Gaudreau is the clear leader of the pack. He was second on the Flames in points through the regular season, after all, and no rookie scored more than he did over the year. To think that he scored at a .80 point per game pace in his first season is incredible, and speaks to just what we can look forward to from him. This probably isn’t his best at all.

The other three rookies, however, have significantly less to show. They didn’t get to play in Gaudreau’s first line situation, but there’s a reason for that: they don’t have the offensive talent he does. 

Jooris and Granlund are pretty close to one another, although Jooris showed a little more over more games. That said, he averaged more minutes than Granlund, and he’s got a few years on him, so it balances out. While neither looks like a top scorer, if they can grow into secondary scoring roles, that’ll definitely be a victory for them and for the Flames.

Ferland is in a completely different boat, as it took him longer to make the NHL this past season than it did the other three rookies, and it took him longer to start scoring. He played fewer games and fewer minutes, and didn’t really get the chance to show his offensive potential.

It’s something he definitely has, though. Ferland didn’t score a lot in his draft year, but he became a point per game player, and then eclipsed that, soon after in junior, and has put up modest points in the AHL.

Granlund put up pretty good numbers in Finland, and is nearly a point per game player in the AHL. Gaudreau has been, of course, amazing throughout his entire hockey career, and while he probably won’t achieve the two points per game in the NHL he did in his junior year, a point per game probably isn’t out of the question.

Jooris’ offence is the biggest surprise, as his scoring was modest in college, and didn’t look NHL-ready in his first AHL season, but hey – nobody was expecting him to have the season he did, anyway. His 13.5% shooting percentage is a little high, but not unrealistic to maintain.

Finding their spots on the team

Gaudreau’s role already seems firmly established: he’s a first line, top scoring winger, and that’s probably not going to change any time soon. Jiri Hudler was at his opposite all season long, and once Sean Monahan joined them down the middle, things clicked. There’s always a chance things could change thanks to the Flames’ incoming centre depth – namely, Sam Bennett – and Hudler’s age, but for the most part, Gaudreau’s role is already set.

When it comes to Jooris, though, things are less clear. He was all over the place throughout the season, from centring Gaudreau and Hudler to spending significant time with Joe Colborne, Mason Raymond, Curtis Glencross, Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, and Brandon Bollig. To put it simply: he played with first liners and fourth liners, as both right winger and centreman.

That’s a pretty good thing for Jooris, actually. It plays to how ridiculously versatile he is. He may not be scoring at the pace of a top six guy, but he can play with them. He scores more than a fourth liner, as well, but his game is perfectly suitable to a bottom six role. While if anything, Jooris will probably settle as a bottom six depth player, the fact that he’s so malleable and can play in just about any position in the lineup is a huge advantage.

(For the record, Jooris’ points don’t come from Gaudreau and Hudler – only six of his total 24 points came as a direct result of playing with them.)

Granlund, like Jooris, bounced around a fair amount as well, but never really spent time on the fourth line. He, too, centred Gaudreau and Hudler (and unlike Jooris, was more dependent on them for points – while a quarter of Jooris’ scoring game from them, nearly 40% of Granlund’s did). He also spent significant time with Byron, Raymond, Colborne, and even Ferland.

While Granlund operated on a similar level as Jooris, Jooris was definitely a step above: scoring more, doing more on his own, and achieving it with a greater cast of characters, some of whom were definitely inferior.

With Ferland, there’s so much less to judge, and we probably haven’t come even close to seeing the best of him. Ferland played extremely limited minutes in the regular season, but in the playoffs, he found a home alongside two reliable veterans in Matt Stajan and David Jones. That could very well be the opening third line next season.

What’s in store for next season?

One last, important thing to look at is just how the rookies were used, and how they performed in their roles. From the regular season only:

WOIFlamesRookies

No surprise, again, that Gaudreau posted the best possession stats of the bunch. Here, though, there’s additional context as to just how that happened. While he did face the toughest competition of all Flames rookies – which, of course he did, as teams quickly learned they were going to have to do everything in their power to stop him – he was also the beneficiary of sheltered, mostly offensive zone starts. 

That’s not a knock on his defensive abilities, though; it’s more a commentary that he’s here to score, and starting him most often in the offensive zone gives him the best chance to do just that.

This is also where the chasm between Jooris and Granlund really deepens. While at first glance, they looked similar, the gap started to form when comparing their linemates, and now, here, it’s fully realized. Both were used in similar positions – mostly sheltered – but while Jooris performed well, Granlund floundered.

While Jooris was ready for the NHL this season, Granlund was not, and it showed as the games went on. I suspect the Flames’ original intention wasn’t to have Granlund play so many NHL games, but injuries forced their hand, leaving an ill-prepared rookie to take on a role he wasn’t yet equipped to handle. If anything, Jooris should stay in the NHL, and Granlund spend more time in the minors.

That leaves just Ferland, who turned out to be a pleasant surprise, even before the playoffs. He played low competition, but he was the only rookie to not be the beneficiary of so many offensive zone starts, which helps explain his significantly lower point totals. 

With him, however, it’s especially important to remember he only just barely lost his rookie status, so there’s a lot less to judge him off of. As it stands, though, things are pointing towards good things for him.

So, all in all: we probably already know where Gaudreau stands, and it’s awesome. Ferland still has a lot to show, but for the meantime, it’s looking good. Jooris’ future role remains unclear, but he’s probably going to be a useful player; and Granlund, even less clear, because in all likelihood, he wasn’t yet ready. 

Maybe next season.

  • wot96

    The performance of the three guys not named Johnny Hockey is going to give the Flames some harder decisions.

    I seriously doubt if any of them clear waivers if there are not enough slots on the team for them and some of the more established vets. I suspect, then, that the Flames will have either to send one of these useful bottom nine guys to another team or to send older, more expensive, vets to the Farm in order to make room for these guys and not lose any talent.

    And God forbid Arnold, Poirier and one of the recent defence signings, i.e., Morrison or Nakladal, are good enough to play next season.

    Good problem to have. These guys earned it.

  • Byron Bader

    Regular season 5v5 even strength rate stats (goals, assists, points & corsi for and against, each adjusted for 60 minutes of ice time), sorted by points/60 in descending order:

    Player...	G60	A60	P60	CF60	CA60	PDO
    Granlund.	0.73	1.05	1.78	47.1	66.7	100.2
    Gaudreau	0.71	0.95	1.67	54.8	63.8	102.3
    Ferland.	0.63	0.63	1.26	46.2	58.5	102.3
    Jooris..	0.44	0.74	1.19	52.4	57.7	99.5
    
    • mattyc

      I like that you kept the corsi split. Emphasizes that Jooris is the most reliable defensively (although he probably gets easier matchups than Gaudreau). For me, Jooris is the intriguing one (forget Gaudreau – he’s in a whole different league compared to the other guys). He was reliable at both ends, put up some of the best possession on the team, and was a reliable PKer. Between him, Byron, Bouma, Stajan you have the makings of an effective bottom 6. Next year we probably see Ferland full time in there, with another player or two.

  • JumpJet

    Totally agree that Gaudreau’s role is set and he’ll be playing with Monahan and Hudler to start the season, and I would love to see Ferland start the year with Stajan and Jones, as you suggested. I think a good fit for Granlund and Jooris could be playing with each other, either with another solid possession player like Byron or an offensive talent like Bennett. The good thing about both those lines is anyone could play any forward position. Either way they should get more sheltered minutes, but that shouldn’t be hard to do with teams trying to check Hudreaunahan and Stajan/Backlund able to take on the other teams’ top guns.

  • JumpJet

    Hard not to love Jooris’ game. As you say, he’s versatile, he’s fast, he can grind a bit, has some scoring touch. He can be plugged anywhere, and the fact that he’s a right-handed shot makes him that much more valuable here.

    It is important to keep in mind he’s an older rookie (will be 25 this summer), so his ceiling is only going to go so much higher. Which is fine, because as a third or fourth liner who can sometimes fill in in the top-6, I’d be happy to have him on the Flames roster for the next five seasons.

    Granlund was not quite ready, but he’s also three years younger than Jooris. How he fares will be really interesting; how high is his offensive ceiling? He’s shown glimpses of a strong defensive player in here, could be move to the wing?

    Also, does notching his rookie belt mean Granlund cannot be sent down to the AHL without being subject to waivers?

    • Ari Yanover

      Nope, rookie status has nothing to do with waivers. However, I’m pretty sure Granlund is still waiver exempt for one more season, so there should be nothing to worry about in regards to him.

      And I get sad about the lack of Olli Maatta on this team every day. ):

  • Scary Gary

    Speaking of present and future rookies:
    Haha I know I should get over it and hindsight is 20-20 but every time I see Teravainen, Hertl or Girgensons play I think of that 14th pick and Jankowski/Sieloff.

    Great job on Gillies, Kulak and Culkin though for Weisbrod.

    • T&A4Flames

      You should get over it. Ghe is still ticking for Janko and Sieloff. Janko is carving himself a nice role as a tough minutes C with good FO ability. In 2-3 years he may replace Backlund in that role. Sieloff, he’s got a big, important year ahead of him. Its tough what happened to him with his illness and injuries, but if he doesn’t bounce back this year, he could be done.

      • Ari Yanover

        Good comment.

        When the Flames picked up Colborne, Burke said he might be like David Steckel. Janko seems to me to be developing into what Burke was looking for out of Colborne. Good face off guy, big body, defensively responsible with some offensive upside.

        Would I have picked Janko there? No. Several of the choices that could have been made had the Flames not traded down would have been quite useful to the team by now, probably. He wasn’t the best choice, but that is not to say he was a bad choice.

        Janko seems to be developing and he is what, four years younger than Joe? A lot of people are saying we should give Joe another year so we should be ready to give Janko another couple years to see what he develops into. It is still to early to call him a bust.

          • piscera.infada

            He would have to improve more than significantly in order to gain that type of leverage. If he does and decides to exercise that right, which I doubt he would, the Flames get a compensatory pick in the middle of the second round.

          • OKG

            Yeaa .It’s a move that more and more player’s seem to be exercising though. The stigma that it would be dis-honorable to walk away from the team that drafted you no longer exists.

    • Ari Yanover

      Add Ceci, big Tom Wilson or Maata to that list & you get a very important young player that would have been playing with the Flames. I hope Jankowski really begins to make that huge progression to the pro’s after next year & gets it right. He is still 2 years from even getting consideration of cracking the Flames line up. When you put it in context, what a horrible selection for a prospect youth starved franchise to select a player that has such a long development path. That would be maybe something the Flames could look at now that we have a lot of good young players in the pipe now, we could afford to take a flyer on a kid like that. I know hindsight is 20/20 but I hope this is a lesson to BT. I this hard cap NHL, you cannot afford to this type of stuff with your 1st rounders. The 1st rounders are your lifeline, they bring good fresh young players & they keep your cap in balance. 2nd rounders is where you can speculate with the likes of a Jankowski pick. Not that I am against him making it, I really hope he can become a full-time NHL player, but how huge would a Girgensons or Ceci or Tom Wilson have looked in our lineup against the Ducks.

  • The Last Big Bear

    @arii

    Of the four, Granlund is the only one to have played earlier, but his seven games from 2013-14 weren’t enough to count.

    I’m sure someone else has pointed it out already, but just to be a dink I’ll point out that Gaudreau played a game last season as well.

    Was pretty awesome in it too.

    /beingadink