Revisiting Micheal Ferland with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan

Since Jiri Hudler in the 2014-15 season, the Flames have had a fair bit of trouble with finding a right winger to play with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Hudler was magic with the duo in the year the Flames went to the playoffs, but he fell off a cliff the following season, and then he was traded.

That line has had a mostly rotating cast since, with multiple other forwards getting the call and none of them really working out.

One of those guys was Micheal Ferland. In the 2015-16 season, he played 144:47 5v5 minutes with Gaudreau and Monahan. The line had a CF of 53.8%, but their GF was a mere 45.5%. They looked great, but they weren’t really producing tangible results, things didn’t stick, and the Flames had a miserable season, anyway.

Against the Predators the Flames continued to have a not-miserable if inconsistent season, kicked off with Ferland back on that line and scoring two goals to show for it.

Options through the seasons

In 2015-16, Gaudreau and Monahan’s most common linemates, after Hudler, were Ferland, David Jones, Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris, even Sam Bennett – a general inconsistent mess with seemingly no answer.

So it’s really no wonder the team was unable to find another linemate to go with the pair. Bennett is naturally a centre and not a long-term fit for them anyway, and of the wingers, Ferland is the only one who is still actually a Flame.

This season, Gaudreau and Monahan have been split up even more. After Monahan, Gaudreau’s most common linemates have been Alex Chiasson, Bennett, and Troy Brouwer. Monahan’s have been Brouwer, Versteeg, and Chiasson. Both players have spent at least 100 5v5 minutes with these guys, but once again, nobody has really seemed to stick.

Ferland should be playing more, anyway

It’s a drum we’ve kind of been banging on all season long: Ferland deserves way more ice time than he currently gets.

This season, Ferland has averaged just 10:48 a game. Freddie Hamilton and Garnet Hathaway are the only somewhat regular forwards who average less ice time than he does. He’s played just 19:55 on the powerplay – 10th among forwards, and nearly 30 fewer minutes than Chiasson – and doesn’t get penalty kill time.

Ferland has, by any account, been treated as a fourth liner this season.

Despite that, he has 10 goals and 17 points in 56 games, good for 13th in team scoring. Matt Stajan averages about two more minutes a game than Ferland; Ferland is one point back of him. Brouwer averages over six more minutes in ice time than Ferland and gets powerplay time; Ferland is two points back of him. He’s three points back of Bennett and six points back of Versteeg, two more players who have gotten much more ice time to work with. Imagine what he’d be able to do with those minutes?

Further to that, Ferland has been far from a defensive liability. There’s been no reason to bench him – his 49.45% CF is just on the cusp of making him a positive corsi guy, and that’s with 27.39% offensive zone starts, which are the eighth worst on the Flames. No, he’s not putting up Backlund-level underlying numbers, but they’re still pretty good for the situation he’s been placed in, all the same.

Really, barely using Ferland has been puzzling. Doubly so once he started playing more shifts on the right wing, all the while there’s been a glaring hole for a right winger in the Flames’ top six.

Revisiting Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland

Via Corsica, the Flames’ best 5v5 CF% line in the 2015-16 season, minimum 100 minutes played together, was actually those three.

Yeah, that does sound a little suspicious given what we know of Backlund and Frolik, but aside from the old line with Hudler as well, those two make up the other two top combinations (along with Colborne and Bennett). 

But fact of the matter is, Ferland was really, really good with Gaudreau and Monahan.

Except they couldn’t score. And remember, last season, Ferland certainly got his looks, but only had a shooting percentage of 3.3%. It just wasn’t happening for him that year. This season, though, his shooting percentage has swung the other direction – up to 14.3% – and while that’s probably not the real Ferland either, tangible results do make a pretty big difference.

Last season, Ferland was great on that line, but the line couldn’t score. This season, they’re off to a much better start.

What if this is the solution?

It’s been one game. It’s been one game of success, coupled with almost 150 minutes of what looked like it had potential from a year ago. It’s so, so far from a sure thing.

But.

The Flames have a glaring hole in their top six. They still need at least one more impact forward before they can really start to be taken seriously. Hell, this season Backlund’s line has pretty much been the only one really worth a damn.

But if the success Ferland has hinted at having alongside Gaudreau and Monahan is for real – and it really is far too early to say it is, but the potential is at least there – then that’s a major problem solved for the Flames. It’s not enough in the long run, but considering how Ferland is only 24 and costs nothing to acquire because he’s already on the team, it would be beyond massive if it turns out he’s the final piece that line needs.

And seeing as how nobody else has really shown that much potential since Hudler, Ferland deserves time – maybe even the rest of the season – to prove that he’s the fit. That’s barring anything like a trade that could potentially yield a better option, but if we’re going with the status quo, it’s Ferland’s turn. 

It’s long past being Ferland’s turn.

  • The Sultan

    I think this is the side of Ferland we were all expecting to see after that riveting series against the Canucks where Ferkland was born. The intensity he showed game in and game out was hopefully just a glimpse at the player he could become.

    Now that he’s got some decent NHL experience, put in those hard minutes, maybe the results will be different this time. All I know is that someone with Ferland’s potential is too good to be wasting on fourth-line minutes.

    Why go out and acquire someone with scoring and size when we’ve had that player all along? Here’s to hoping.

  • Zalapski

    His shot on the 2nd goal last night was unbelievable. Lambo said something on the fan today that I thought summed it up. If Ferland plays a North/South game and let’s Monny and Jonny go East/West there is no doubt he’ll be effective. He just needs to fire away and bang out there. His skill is so obvious and I’m happy GG gave him a chance to play with those two. Here’s hoping he can bring it in Florida and Tampa like he did yesterday.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Ferland is definately an enigma. He seems to have the potential to be a true power forward but lacks consistency and at times confidence. Sometimes it appears that Ferland is content being a fourth liner without the pressure. He seems to disappear in games.

    His life and career could improve dramatically if he steps up and takes the job on the top line. His skill set is tantalizing. By not passing, to Johnny on the 2 on 1 and trusting his shot shows maturity in his game. IMO the blue print for a power forward is Simmonds, and Ferland has a lot of his qualities especially the size and skating.

    I would like to see him on the PP and even used on the 3v3, with his shot he should be considered for shoot outs. Of course, if this was the case GG would have already identified this….or would he?

  • Parallex

    Yeah, he definitely deserves a go on that line. I really liked that when Johnny dropped that beaut of a pass on him that he pulled the trigger immediately… pretty sure most guys would just stand there wondering how the heck they got the puck.

  • Danomitee

    I feel like most of this site has been preaching this for the better part of two years. It’s time for GG to stop playing Chiasson, Brouwer (enter plug here) and put Ferland up there for a while.

  • Derzie

    We have to temper the excitement over last night’s results. It is good for confidence but Rinne was pretty leaky. Something to build on though. And is there a harder hitter than Ferland? Guys get knocked down hard and Ferland looks like it is no effort. Guy must be strong as an ox.

  • Derzie

    We have to temper the excitement over last night’s results. It is good for confidence but Rinne was pretty shaky. Something to build on though. And is there a harder hitter than Ferland? Guys get knocked down hard and Ferland looks like it is no effort. Guy must be strong as a bull.

  • beloch

    The Flames problem is that, aside from Frolik (who should remain on the 3M line), their RW’s are all pretty much interchangeable. They’re all mediocre possession players with roughly the same number of points and they all look out of place with Gaudreau and Monahan. Chiasson, Brouwer and Ferland are probably all 3rd liners.

    However, of these three, Ferland is the youngest and probably has the most upside. Also, we’ve seen that he can be a significantly better player in clutch situations (e.g. the playoffs two seasons ago). He’s probably the best choice for the Gaudreau-Monahan line down the stretch, unless a genuine top-line RW’er is acquired before the deadline.

    Ferland is not going to suddenly look like he fits on the top line on a consistent basis, but there’s hope he’ll go into beast-mode for a few games and possibly steal a point or two for the Flames.

    • Schmenkley

      i am not sure I totally agree with this; what basis do you have for saying Ferland won’t all of a sudden fit on the top line on a consistent basis?

      Opportunity is a wonderful thing……

  • Lucky 13

    At first I was a little concerned that Ferland was going to struggle playing his off wing but after yesterday’s performance not as much. Still curious as to what it may look like if Johnny plays the RW though, as Johnny can accept passes on his backhand with all his skill set. Ferland could carry the LW ( his strength) and gives Johnny a new look for one timer on his right wing. May also confuse the opposition watching Johnny storming up the right side as opposed to the left or cross crossing with two lefties giving the D fits.

    I can’t deny that I was really impressed with Ferlands game. I also be tempted to carry that line for the remainder of the season. MGF short for MaGniFicent

    Let’s pen this in for the next 20 games

  • Backburner

    All I know is that Ferland can dangle from time to time.

    Sorry, this has nothing to do with the post.. but is anyone else hearing Wideman to the Leafs rumors?

    This might be one trade with the Leafs I’m in favor of.

  • The Doctor

    I’m so glad to be reminded that David Jones and Jooris are no longer with the team. Meow! A lot of people look at Ferland and see this big guy who can hit. But the guy has a sweet pair of hands, and anyone who’s familiar with his play and productivity in junior will know that. I think he’s potentially the perfect linemate. I remember reading an article years ago on some of the greatest hockey lines ever (e.g., Trottier-Bossy-Gillies, Lafleur-Shutt-Lemaire, Sittler-MacDonald-Errol Thompson). And one of the keys is having guys whose styles complement one another, e.g., having a playmaker with a scorer and a banger. That’s what I really like about this combo. Ferland is potentially a quintessential power forward, a Lucic or Clark Gillies.

  • Cfan in Vic

    I’d just like to comment about how shocked I was to see the changes in the line up yesterday.

    The narrative began with a “revamped” D squad, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Wides already in the press box after Stone had only been with the Flames for a day. Then I saw Ferly on the top line and it all of a sudden seemed like Christmas for all the FlamesNation children.

    It felt surprisingly refreshing.

  • deantheraven

    Like it. Johnny and Monny might play a little bigger too, with Ferly on their wing. Especially Monahan. Sometimes he looks like he’s in beast mode. Those few extra pounds he added last summer have added some grit factor. Looking forward to more of these guys as the playoffs get closer.

  • freethe flames

    Before we go crowning Ferland as the fit on that line lets see a stretch of games where it works. That does not mean he scores twice a game but that he plays well. He has been given an opportunity a number of times to play up in the line up and on the rW and has struggled. Keep it simple, be physical and shoot the puck. If he continues to play this way have him replace Versteeg or Brouwer on the first PP unit. Play a 1-3-1 PP with Brodie transfering the puck and when it comes to Ferland on the wing shoot the frigging puck. I would even be okay with Bennett being the pain in butt net presence. It has to be better than what we are seeing at the moment.

    • everton fc

      What Ferland will add besides his physical edge is his playmaking ability. Watch him with these two on this line. He’ll create chances for both, and if he and Gaudreau “click”…

      • freethe flames

        The problem has been in the past that when he has been given a chance to move up the lineup he has forgotten who he is and gotten to cute. Simply do what your best at and let the other things develop.

  • Justthateasy

    Ferland hat trick. 2 goals and a fight!!!
    Agree with Deantheraven; Mony might start playing bigger with the big guy on the line. Even Johnny tossed a bit of body around last night.

    • Greatsave

      Won’t be “forced” to do anything because Ferland would be the sixth forward protected. Seventh probably down to Stajan, Bouma, or Brouwer. Can’t see Chiasson, Poirier, or Shinkaruk in that conversation.