FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Micheal Ferland

Thanks to an incredible first round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, Micheal Ferland entered the 2015-16 season with decently high expectations. He did, after all, possess something the Flames were somewhat lacking in: size. At 6’2 and 208 lbs. (not to mention being a pretty solid fighter in his own right), Ferland brought a new dash of truculence to the lineup.

But it wasn’t just that: at 23 years old, he brought potential. And with a junior scoring career vastly outshining Lance Bouma and Brandon Bollig’s – a point per game in his draft+1 year, a 1.4 point per game player as a 19-year-old in the WHL (albeit one whose linemate was Mark Stone) – there was offensive potential there as well. Ferland could be a big scoring winger if he met it.

He did not. Not last season, at least, and it’s something he may never meet.

Season summary

Ferland, newly waiver-eligible, had a spot in the NHL to start the season. He suffered a few injuries here and there, but with 71 games played over an 82-game season, he still got most of the year in. And that year saw him score four goals and 14 assists for just 18 points.

Yeah, not exactly the kind of numbers one would be looking for in a potential offensive player. True, he did only shoot at 3.3%, and he would, at times, show moves throughout the season that left you wondering just why the puck wouldn’t go in for him, but with the opportunities he had, he should have been scoring more.

Ferland spent over 150 even strength minutes with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau as an experiment on the top line, and it never worked out: he only assisted on one of their goals each, and that was it. He spent substantial time with Sam Bennett as well, and though they looked to be forming chemistry at first, only four goals came as a result of their playing together. 

Ferland also played 73:45 on the powerplay (11th on the Flames; seventh amongst forwards) and only had two points to show for it. He played just 10:48 on the penalty kill. He averaged just 12:37 a game.

Ferland’s 2015-16 season points towards him being a bottom six player.

FerlandOTP

Via OwnThePuck, there isn’t enough data on Ferland yet for him to get his own HERO chart (and the misspelling of his first name through his rookie season is causing some havoc), so here he is, on the left, compared to another Flames player with a similar skill set: Bouma (right).

Immediate impression: Ferland is substantially better than Bouma. He put up points at far better rates, and is significantly better at suppressing shots to a laughable extent (and Bouma spent a fair amount of time with Mikael Backlund, who is really, really, really good at that sort of thing).

Second impression: This is a player whose game seems fairly suited to the third or fourth line. You know – the role he played during that impressive first round series against the Canucks.

Impact on team

Top left has players in most difficult circumstances: more defensive zone starts and tougher competition. Bottom right has players in easiest circumstances: a lot of offensive zone starts and weak competition. The bigger a player’s circle, the more he plays. The bluer, the greater his possession relative to his teammates; the redder, the worse. Click on image for full-sized chart from Corsica.

ferlandusage

Ferland was used primarily in a defensive role. His OZS% of 27.29% was the fifth worst amongst Flames regulars. To go with that, it’s important to note that his 48.75% 5v5 CF was eighth out of all Flames regulars, and when it comes to relative corsi, he’s the furthest guy to the left of the chart with a positive reading. Just barely – his 1.32% CF rel is second lowest out of positive stats – but he’s there.

To that note, Ferland’s future use appears clear: a hard-hitting defensive forward who likely won’t score much, but won’t exactly get crushed under the opposition, either.

ferlandwowy

Ferland had a much better outlook when separated from some of the dregs on his team. He was either a positive possession player – or close to it – once he got away from David Jones, Deryk Engelland, Kris Russell, and Matt Stajan. None of those four players did anything to help Ferland, and only hurt him instead.

Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie brought him up, while Joe Colborne and Sam Bennett brought him down, but only slightly. The real improvements we see here are performances (with limited sample size) when sharing the ice with Dougie Hamilton and Sean Monahan.

That’s not to say Ferland should be on Monahan’s line; his apparent lack of offensive talent doesn’t justify it. But he was clearly much better than other so-called defensive players on the Flames.

What comes next?

Ferland is a capable player, but barring a drastic change, it doesn’t appear as though he’ll ever be a scorer at the NHL level. And that’s fine.

Where Ferland’s real value comes in is actually being able to play the game, even if he isn’t putting the puck in the net. Teams want big bodied players? That’s all well and good – but they have to be more like Ferland, and less like Bollig (or, at the rate we’re going, maybe even Bouma). He satisfies a desire for size and truculence, all the while actually being able to play a regular shift, and not being a detriment to his team when he does step on the ice.

If the Flames insist on carrying an enforcer type player, then they can (and have, and still are) do a lot worse than Ferland.

  • supra steve

    Disappointing season for MF. At some point, if he does not improve quickly, his value as a trade chip will overtake his value to the Flames organization. At what point do you cross your fingers and pull the trigger on such a deal?

    • flamesburn89

      Not sure he has much value as a trade piece right now, I doubt Calgary would get more than a 5th rounder for him. Even if he doesn’t score much at the NHL level, I think he can be a valuable bottom 6 guy who brings what Kent refers to as “functional toughness”.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Disappointing how? He’s a 7th round draft pick who wasn’t a prolific scorer in the minors, either. The fact that he’s a legitimate high-end bottom six player is an excellent outcome for him.

      • supra steve

        So you didn’t have higher hopes for him after his playoff performance from 2015? I think you’re in the minority if that’s the case. It’s not about putting up points. It’s about creating havoc for opposition players, drawing penalties, etc. I want Ferkland.

        • SmellOfVictory

          I think he’s a more responsible player this year than he was during last year’s playoffs. He’s still got a physical edge (although certainly not nearly as Tasmanian devil-like), but in my opinion he’s technically better, and maybe that physicality will increase once he’s more comfortable. After all, he’s not even at 100 NHL games played – there’s still room for growth.

          • supra steve

            I agree, he does need more time/experience. All I’m saying is, if it becomes clear to BT that MF can’t fill that Tasmanian devil roll, then it is possible that another GM may be willing to pay dearly for the chance to add MF to his own roster. If the Flames wait too long, and it becomes clear league wide that MF will not be able to play that Tasmanian style, then his value plummets. So worst that can happen is you have a decent bottom six F, that’s not terrible. It is also not rare or very valuable in the trade market.

            I guess another possibility is that Ferkland returns when the Flames return to the playoffs…and that would be awesome.

        • hulkingloooooob

          sure, the playoff performance was lights out. (especially for biekslaw) but is that really sustainable? if he played like that he would have played 25 games all season (due to numerous injuries). pace and growth are almost as important as plastering biekslaw to the boards. (but damn, that was delish!)

  • redricardo

    I don’t think Ferland does become trade bait. I think youfind a team that feels they need more “grit”, send them Bouma, and plug that hole with Ferland.

    Hope that’s how it goes, anyway.

  • piscera.infada

    I’ll readily admit I had grandiose beliefs about the player he could be (most of those unfounded) and that made it somewhat frustrating for me as fan. However, looking back with some sober thought on his season, I feel as though Ferland was actually quite effective. Offensively, he generated a fair bit, but never actually capitalized. Defensively, I thought he was good (and the above numbers seem to back that up to an extent).

    As with all young players though, Ferland needs to work on consistency. I’d also like to see him play with a bit more of an edge–he doesn’t have to be the reckless player he was in the playoffs a year ago, but he has the tools to be more of a presence than he was at times this year. All in all though, I think that while Ferland’s season felt somewhat disappointing, that’s somewhat misleading. He just really needs to build off of that next year.

    • hulkingloooooob

      nailed it. the dude is young. he’s improving at a completely reasonable rate. with some consistency and a few more years under his belt i could see him playing a lucic type of game no problem. heck, he’s got better moves. ferls just has to get his head around the game a little more and like you said, consistency and edge! now go back and watch some of those playoff games, just for fun. do it! you won’t regret it.

  • The Fall

    I still have to remind myself just how young these players are. He can still be a decent middle six forward in three years. Hartley’s usage was all over the map with Ferkland.

  • KACaribou

    Ferland, I believe, spent much of the season mixed up. He wanted to bring the power hitting element of his game to the season, but I believe was also told to up his offensive game and use his skill-set more.

    As a young player, in his first full year in the NHL, he didn’t seem to be able to do both at once. He’d either be trying to pound guys, or, he’d be showing his soft hands and slick moves.

    Near the end of the season, probably the last 10 games, Ferly was holding on to the puck way more and that is when he is most effective as an offensive force. Prior, I don’t think he had the confidence to do so. But, this new-found confidence was creating chances and even some points in those games.

    If he can continue that assent offensively, I think we have more than a the enforcer type Ari mentions. I don’t think he’s that guy. But yes he’s tough, and yes he can fight. When his point totals go up to an impressive number, which I believe they will this coming season, I think we will forget the Bollig comparison and more be happy with a Bertuzi-type I believe Ferly to be.

      • KACaribou

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferly was in the 30-40 point range next season. He had 96 in 68 games in Brandon his last year. You’ve seen his hands. I think Coach Bob is expecting that to happen soon also, which is why he keeps giving him good assignments. But this season, if the guy didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have had any at all.

        BTW: not sure why so many people here are so quick to want to pull a trade all the time?

        Ferly was raised poor, picked up an alcoholic lifestyle; and quite frankly seemed confused early in his career. The young man has quit drinking now for two full years. How many young men do you know in the hockey environment who could do that among all their friends (e.g. Flames Super Bowl drunkards)? Not everyone develops at the same speed, people. Patience… don’t trade just to trade. That’s a ticket to disaster.

        • Baalzamon

          Yeah, I don’t get it either. Ferland is an effective bottom six forward who can play all over the roster, both wings, and is cheap. Oh, and he’s big and physical too. Isn’t that what people keep whining that the Flames need more of?

  • Ferland – never quite reaching his true potential is fine to me he makes a cheap effective depth player and he’s 100x a better player than Bouma. If you can sign him for 3 years at 1 million or less why not.. you need guys like that and he can be used all through out your lineup…

  • MontanaMan

    Disappointing stats and has become injury prone due to his physical game. I like his game if he keeps his feet moving but he has shifts where he stands around. The deceptive part of his game are his soft hands and skill game which we will hopefully see more of next year. He has the talent, the size and the skill but he needs to bring it on a consistent basis.

    • Ari Yanover

      Ferland wasn’t putting up any points with them. At all. He had a grand total of two goals with them; Monahan and Gaudreau were still scoring at a clip way ahead of Ferland.

      I’m all for good possession numbers – I very much love them – but not at the expense of finding a better linemate for Gaudreau and Monahan who will actually contribute offensively (and who, if he manages that, will also probably put up good possession numbers as well).

  • Stu Cazz

    One thing about Ferland that I think many do not realize…this kid has had concussion issues…3 at last count as a Flame….and I know as a WheatKing he had his share….What affect this will have on his future hockey career I don’t know but I do know Flames brass were very concerned after his last one…he seemed to change his game somewhat post his last concussion….

      • everton fc

        Yep. Look at how his scoring has diminished since Brandon moved him to Saskatoon. Never the same…

        Still, he’ll be a serviceable NHL player, I think. And may reach 10-15 goals/season (or more?) with the right linemates. I wonder how he’d do on the LW w/Backlund and Frolik?

  • freethe flames

    I wonder if he would be suited to play LW with Backs and Frolik? He might be the Backs bump that others have had. His big physical presence might make this an excellent line.

  • beloch

    Ferland reminds me a bit of Colborne in that he seems to have some pretty impressive tools but he hasn’t quite figured out how to use them all together just yet. Ferland frequently tries moves and plays that are well beyond Bouma, and occasionally they even work! His possession stats are already better than Bouma’s, so he should be a helpful bottom sixer even if the rest of his game never quite gels.

    On the top line he was clearly out of his depth, but a full season of consistent bottom six deployment might allow him to finally figure his bag of tools out. Here’s hoping his next season is a strong one and he gets a chance to show he can get inside the minds of another playoff team the way he did with the Canucks.