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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Micheal Ferland

No matter how you look at it, Micheal Ferland is a success story. He’s a testament to just what can happen when raw talent, combined with the right amount of luck, meets an extremely effective support network.

The Flames chose him in the fifth round back in 2010. He’s come a long way since then, proving himself to be an effective NHLer. Now, the only question that remains is just how high, exactly, is his ceiling?

2016-17 season summary

Ferland’s season has a distinct split: when he was on the fourth line, and when he was on the top line. As a fourth liner he had eight goals and 15 points in 55 games. Extrapolate that to a full season, and he’d have 12 goals and 22 points.

When Ferland was moved up to play alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, however, things took off. He scored seven goals and 10 points in 21 games. If he maintained that pace over an 82-game season, that would result in 27 goals and 39 points. And while that would be awesome – and it can’t be understated that Ferland was, in fact, awesome to close out the season – those numbers are a bit out of proportion, and put him in “NHL Cy Young” territory (wherein a player’s goals vastly outnumber his assists).

To put it another way: on the fourth line, Ferland had a shooting percentage of 11.9%. On the first line, it shot up to 17.9%. Ferland has a career shooting percentage of 8.0%. This season was way beyond expectations for him, even when he was on the fourth line; however, his NHL career is only 173 games deep, and this was just his second full season, so it’s possible he is a better shooter than his first couple of years gave him credit for – but he’s probably not going to be an 18% guy.

Another way of looking at the split? On the fourth line, Ferland had 1.22 shots per game. On the first, he had 1.86. Given more opportunity and better linemates, Ferland is probably going to be more active with the puck.

And really – that’s what Ferland’s entire season boils down to. Twenty-five points through an entire season isn’t a lot, but it was good enough to tie for 11th on the team, and does hint at offensive potential. Not potential to just be an NHLer – we already know he is one – but potential to be a scorer.

Potential that is not getting the opportunity to be realized. Ferland averaged 11:33 per game throughout the entire year; only Lance Bouma and Garnet Hathaway had less ice time. He played 35:27 on the powerplay throughout the entire year, 14th in ice time. (He scored two goals and four points on the man advantage; probably not a pace he can keep up, but one certainly deserving of more looks than some players got, namely Troy Brouwer, Alex Chiasson, and even Sam Bennett, though Bennett’s use is much more justifiable.)

Right now, 2016-17 looks like it’s Ferland’s breakout season – but he probably has more to offer than this. He just needs the chance to prove it. Via Own The Puck, his ice time has never been up to par:

Compared to last season

Ferland is generally not a liability. He doesn’t play in the most difficult of circumstances, but he’s hardly sheltered, either.

His overall 5v5 CF% of the season clocked in at 49.53%, up a bit from the 48.68% he held in 2015-16. Not everyone on a team is going to be above 50%, but Ferland toeing that line is a good sign. His corsi for this past season seems to have dropped about when the Flames’ as a whole went up in January, which is a bit of a bizarre inverse, but even then he still worked himself back up into positive territory as the year ended.

At absolute worst, he’s still likely to be more helpful than not every time he steps out on the ice.

Most common teammates

For the most part, Ferland appears to have a solid, if unspectacular, effect on his teammates. His presence helped Matt Stajan, Gaudreau, and T.J. Brodie to an extent, while he didn’t have too much of an effect on Monahan, and playing with Dougie Hamilton and Mark Giordano helped him more than he helped them.

Engelland and Bouma are the only real head scratchers here, as they appear to have been better away from Ferland; this likely won’t be revisited in the near future, though.

What’s next?

Ferland’s future is not entirely in his own hands.

If things stay pretty much as they are – namely, if the Flames don’t add any notable new forwards – then the top line right wing spot will probably be his to lose. He finished the end of the regular season on a high note, and Gaudreau and Monahan looked to be at the top of their games when playing alongside Ferland. He’s big and he has talent, so it’s possible he’s the missing piece they need.

But is he the ideal one? Probably not. That’s not a slight on Ferland, but it’s not exactly a secret the Flames could stand to improve their overall forward corps. And if they’re able to get a new name – say a Nino Niederreiter or Kevin Hayes – then there’s plenty of justification to bump Ferland down. He’s had 21 games as a first liner with some potential showing; those other players have already proven more in their NHL careers to date.

That’s not to say Ferland has little value. He’ll almost certainly be protected. If he does end up bumped down the lineup, then he’s just going to make one of those other lines stronger. Sam Bennett had to play alongside Brouwer for much of the season; how much better would he have fared if Ferland was his right winger instead? If the Flames decide to load up the top line by moving Matthew Tkachuk up there, how valuable could Ferland be alongside the other two Mikes on the team? There are a number of options for Ferland, and none of them are particularly bad.

One thing’s for certain, though: he needs ice time, and coaches are out of excuses to not give it to him.


#1 – Brian Elliott #5 – Mark Giordano
#6 – Dennis Wideman #7 – T.J. Brodie
#10 – Kris Versteeg #11 – Mikael Backlund
#13 – Johnny Gaudreau #17 – Lance Bouma
#18 – Matt Stajan #19 – Matthew Tkachuk
#23 – Sean Monahan #25 – Freddie Hamilton
#26 – Michael Stone #27 – Dougie Hamilton
#29 – Deryk Engelland #31 – Chad Johnson
#36 – Troy Brouwer #39 – Alex Chiasson
#44 – Matt Bartkowski #61 – Brett Kulak
#64 – Garnet Hathaway #67 – Michael Frolik

 

  • DKramer

    Really hoping Tre can get him locked up for a decent term. It just seems like if tre can negotiate a low $ this could be one of those huge value deals come a couple years

  • Rockmorton65

    I really hope the Flames protect this guy. Not just from a hockey standpoint, but a personal one, as well. He’s done an amazing job with his substance abuse issues. It could be disastrous for a recovering alcoholic to have to live, and work, in Vegas.

    • Stu Cazz

      Have you been to Vegas other than the main strip? Obviously not!! Vegas is the US largest growing community.
      Do you live within a reasonable distance from a liquor store in Calgary? Your comment re: alcoholic is utterly ridiculous. Seriously!

  • everton fc

    While I wouldn’t mind seeing Hayes here, and with Gaudreau, I also don’t see Hayes as a 1st line wing or centre. Hayes had 17 goals. Ferland 15. Sure, Hayes had more assists, but Ferland will get his, as well, with Gaudreau and Monahan.

    I see Ferland clearing 20 goals this season. Hayes has never achieved this….

    Ferland for 3-4 years at 2.75mill. I’d do that deal.

    Niederreiter would look goon the the RW w/Gaudreau and Monahan, though. Then you’d have a third line of Versteeg/Bennett/Ferland (or Ferland/Bennett/Versteeg – Ferland’s a natural LW). Our top three lines would be difficult to stop.

    Now if we can move Brouwer! 😉

    Niederreiter will cost us our first, though. And a prospect. If that happens, you have to hope BT can unload Brouwer to the Pens for Fleury, or to a team that send a bad contract the other way – the latter of which won’t (and shouldn’t) happen.

    • Hubcap1

      “I see Ferland clearing 20 goals this season. Hayes has never achieved this….

      Ferland for 3-4 years at 2.75mill. I’d do that deal.”

      I don’t like the idea of paying for what you think a player ‘could do’, if you shave 1m off that number it probably represents more of what he would be reasonably expected ‘to do’ and anything more would be a bonus.

  • Stan

    I feel like the Flames need to make acquiring a top 6 RW (Nino/Hayes) a priority, it just makes everything slot so much better.

    Gaudreau-Monahan-XX
    Tkachuk-Backs-Frolik
    Ferland-Bennett-Versteeg

    Of course that’s easier said than done as a #4 D and #1 G are also priorities. But thats why I would try to go cheap and young on the bottom pair (Kulak/Anderrson/Kylington) and in goal (Raanta/Grubauer).

    • Hubcap1

      I also feel like leaving Ferland on the top line if he continues to work well there at 5v5. Then adding a solid scoring winger that could move to the Bennett line along with Versteeg (if we can and do resign him), this might be the catalyst that takes Bennett’s game to the next level.

      • Stu Cazz

        I see immediate improvement. Hayes and Gaudreau are dynamic together and with Monahan that would be an improved 1st line. The ability then to move Ferland to his natural LW on the 3rd line immediately improves production on that line. Three scoring lines equals success.

        • piscera.infada

          It seems like a lot of that is premised on an assumption that Hayes and Gaudreau will find whatever spark they had at BC, and it will translate dually to the NHL. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but it is anything but a surety. I will also point out that while Hayes has better production, he has worse underlying numbers. I would be all for giving Hayes a go for the right price, but let’s not act like he’s a de facto improvement–like Nino appears to be.

  • BringtheFire

    Seeing as how I agree with everything in this article and have nothing constructive to add about his play or usage…

    …I’d just like to congratulate Ferland on his sobriety. His story can be an inspiration to millions.

    Well done, Ferly. I wish nothing but joy for you.

    • Cfan in Van

      Agreed. Not surprising, but his play has definitely steadily improved through an increase in self-confidence and focus. It’s been a really inspirational story, and I’ve definitely become a huge fan of his since he was a rather inconsistent prospect attempting to put his life back together.

  • everton fc

    I was a big fan of Ferland’s when he was a Wheatie. Eric Roy, as well (always hoped he make it here. Alas…)

    Ferland’s story is certainly inspirational. I hope he plays his whole career here in Calgary. Ditto Backlund.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    The way I see it, a hockey organization needs to follow the 80/20 rule to succeed. The Flames need to work on the basis that the top 20% of its players will make up 80% of the salary cap. This forces the organization to be both creative and diligent with the remaining 20%.

    Players like Ferland will have to fight for a bigger chunk 20%. The organization needs to show that Ferland is an important piece of the new regime while not paying him like one and equally important not insulting him.

    The only way this model works successfully is when you can graduate players through the system. For every Nino or Hayes signing the organization needs to promote a Janko and Shink. The real win happens when these players play like a top 20% but are paid at an entry level or modest rate.

    Not surprisingly, Pittsburg seems to be the best at this. The leading scorer in the entire playoffs is on an entry level contract. He plays on the 1st line or the 4th line. Sheary and Rust can also be moved to the top line without getting top line salary. Pittsburgh’s only big acquisition seems to be Kessel. Shultz was an inexpensive project that has paid off.

    The model does not work when a team’s 4 th line accounts for a disproportionate level of spend. Calgary needs to make spots available to graduate players which they have struggled to make happen.

    • Puckhead

      Using an 80/20 rule seems a bit too simple. As with anything, there are various ways to be competive. For example, maybe you end up with 2 or 3 highly priced players and a bunch of $3M players who are better than average.

      Also, for long-term success it would be nice to see a team that continually cycles players through the system. Sell high when the opportunity presents itself and restock the shelf with picks and prospects.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        Perhaps it is simplistic but the important part is the building blocks. Cycling quality prospects through the system is critical so the organization does not have to overpay for free agents. I wonder how a team like Pittsburgh would have handled a player like Janko and consequently how the flames wouldn’t even managed Guentzal. There is no history to indicate that he would be playing for Calgary despite lighting it up in the AHL….Therein lies a big philosophical difference in development.

        • piscera.infada

          Guentzel had 37 goals in 33 AHL games this year. Jankowski has just finished his first year pro and hasn’t been “lighting the up” by any measurable statistic. He had a good first year. Relax.

          • piscera.infada

            Sorry. Not sure where I got that Guentzel thing from (I could have sworn they said it last night…). Regardless though, he had 42 points in 33 AHL games this year. The part about Janko still stands.

    • Just.Visiting

      Great directional insights that we need to be disciplined in throwing money around on the complementary players. At the end of the day, a dollar is a dollar. You can get a lot of hockey talent for what we spent on Wideman, Brouwer and Stajan this year, for example. I hope that someone is listening. This is particularly important when we need to focus much more on preparing for 2018-2019 and the window after that much more than edging into the playoffs and hoping to compete for a round.

  • Just.Visiting

    As long as Ferland is on the first line, it seems like a holding pattern by management and the coaching staff until we go out and get the new shiny thing RW. Why not just move Tkachuk to the first line and Ferland to a longer term home with either Bennett or the Mikes? Between the two options, for Ferland, I like Janko with the Mikes and Ferland with Sam on an SOB line that would be really tough to play against. If Tkachuk works out with Monahan and JG, our RW problems are solved without spending a bunch of money on a UFA or trading assets for a player who may or may not have chemistry with them (e.g., Brouwer) and you have a coherent first line PP unit. If it doesn’t work out, you can look at a trade then. Like many others on here, I was frustrated by the way he was used last year. He deserved to play in the top nine from very early in the season, and he deserved first unit PP time at the end. I also like the way that he plays a disciplined game, while bringing skill and functional toughness.