Micheal Ferland still finding his way through the NHL

Ever since the playoffs, it’s been easy to get caught up in the Micheal Ferland hype. While he didn’t register much on the scoresheet, he became a focal point in the Flames’ first round victory over the Vancouver Canucks through his physical play.

The icing on the cake was when he did actually register on the scoresheet. His first playoff goal started off the Flames’ comeback from being down 3-0 in what proved to be the decisive Game 6. He was beasting out there, and everyone knew it.

Except he wasn’t really a factor against the Ducks in the second round at all. That can be partially attrbuted to injury. The fact he has yet to accomplish much in the regular season to date, though? A little less so.

Over 45 NHL games to date, Ferland has scored three goals and has eight points, total. Those are hardly what you’d call impressive numbers. His minor league totals suggest he has more in him – after officially completing his junior career, he scored 33 points over 57 AHL games – but they’re numbers that have yet to materialize in the NHL.

And it’s entirely possible they never will. 

At the same time, though, Ferland has just three points through 19 games this season. He scored a garbage time goal against the San Jose Sharks in the Flames’ 5-2 loss back on Nov. 28, and he had an assist in a 5-3 loss to the Ducks on Nov. 24, but before those, he was going on an eight game pointless streak. Part of that was likely due to his recovery from injury, but at the same time, eight games without a point is eight games without a point. He’s shown flashes, but has had a hard time actually capitalizing on them.

Ferland has been averaging 10:33 in ice time this season, although in five of his last six games, he’s played closer to a minimum of 12 minutes a night (the one exception being a disheartening 6:58 against the Arizona Coyotes a 2-1 overtime loss). 

Most of that time has been on Matt Stajan’s wing. The two have been starting in the offensive zone 41.5% of the time together, and putting up an 5v5 CF of 47.8%: not terrible, but not spectacular, either. 

Ferland has yet to really be able to be a positive possession player thus far in his career, but his overall 5v5 CF of 49.0% this season is up from 2014-15’s 44.3%. He’s had slightly more favourable zone starts to get him there, but he’s still buried more often than not.

All in all, Ferland is doing okay. Not spectacular. Not exactly irreplaceable. But okay. He’s a 23-year-old former fifth round pick playing in his second NHL season, though, so he’s already passed expectations. 

But that doesn’t mean he can’t be better. It’s not as though the occasional healthy scratch is going to disrupt a developing prospect’s career. After all, one really good playoff series aside, Ferland hasn’t done much to stand out – but since becoming waiver eligible just this season, it may have been that one good playoff series that’s forced his presence in the NHL lineup. 

People know who he is now; people would claim him. And he has genuine NHL talent, it’s still just finding its way to the surface.

Ferland is a projected healthy scratch tonight, and that’s okay. If this becomes a frequent trend, then we’ll have a problem. But for now, it’s possible the occasional game in the press box will help him over the long term of his career.

(Why it’s Brandon Bollig going in the lineup over Josh Jooris, though, is inexplicable. Ferland and Jooris can at least play 12 minutes a game. Bollig can’t. There goes the four lines.)

  • Skuehler

    Seems like Ferland’s game needs intensity, a good dose of swagger and a chip on his shoulder, playing on the edge. He has a good package of skills. Maybe coach is giving him something to get ticked about. Maybe putting Bollig in his spot is extra irritating. Something needs to get under Ferlands skin and light a fire.

    Ferland at his best is a game-changer, a player that makes things happen, a guy who can throw the opposition off their game. Not a lot of players can do that.

  • The other challenge for Ferland is Stajan’s line has been deployed in an almost exclusively defensive/shut down role. Hartley had them out quite frequently against the Thornton line at home, for instance.

    Not only is that a tough row to hoe for a kid, it makes it even tougher when his line mates aren’t really cut out for that assignment. I mean, Stajan is a fine middle tier NHL C, but Colborne is a 4th line RW. Hanging against the big guns is a tall order for that group.

    • KACaribou

      Good point. I noticed that too, and I think that fourth line held up really well against a top grouping. If anyone looked to have a poor game against SJ, I thought it was Colborne.

  • KACaribou

    I don’t think Ferly is being punished for the bad play you allude to. I think a couple viewings from above may help him see what he needs to do more of. It’s seems to be a Coach Bob tactic, that he has used with several players including Johnny Hockey last year.

    The whole team started slowly. Terribly you could say. But although Ferly hasn’t kicked the door in yet, he’s certainly not had lows like some of his fellow Flames.

    And comparing stats to other guys put on limited minutes his stats are certainly no worse.
    Derek Grant C, 9 GP 0g 0a 0pts,
    Brandon Bollig 17 GP 1g 1a 1pts,
    Josh Jooris 20 GP 2g 1a 3pts,
    Michael Ferland 19 GP 2g 1a 3pts,
    Matt Stajan 27GP 1g 3a 4pts,
    Mason Raymond 15GP 1g 1a 2pts.

    Not that that is an excuse, but I think his presence trumps all those guys. Plus Coach Bob, what do you want him to do? Hit? Fight? Score? If it’s the first two, don’t complain when he takes a few penalties. If it’s the last, put him on a line with some productive point producers.

    A little clarity would do Ferly good… or maybe it would just do me some good.

  • hulkingloooooob

    What do we want?….Ferland to over achieve now or develop into what we all know he could be in 2-3 years? Patience is key. Just look at Bouma, Backland, hell, even Brodie wasn’t a god in this league after 45 games, and now he is (at least in my eyes). No Ferland will never be as good as Brodie, but he’s looked good. He’s got hands, decent speed for a physical force, and steadily developing hockey smarts (not to mention improving fancy stats). I think he’s doing just fine.

    But yes, Jooris should be playing tonight over Bolls.

    What can ya do?