If you’re not instantly NHL-ready, chances are your entry-level contract will be a wash. Micheal Ferland was not instantly NHL-ready.
He did, however, close out his ELC with a bang, getting so under the Vancouver Canucks’ skin in the first round 2015 playoff series that he ended up being a key part of the Flames’ win, and establishing himself as a surefire NHLer seemingly through that series alone.
But he had to prove he was more than a one round wonder, and so, he was re-signed to a relatively cheap deal: two years, $825k per.
That deal is now up. Ferland, with two full seasons of work – not to mention the 43 points scored over them – needs a new contract. And one of the biggest questions is whether he should get another show me deal, or if it’s time to invest in some term.
The Lance Bouma deal
There are some comparables one can draw between Ferland and Lance Bouma. They’re both big, they’re both physical, neither is exactly a typical scorer. They are, in a word, depth players, but those really fun kinds everyone loves to have.
… Or at least, that’s what Bouma appeared to be. After a fluke 34-point season – the very one that saw him go to arbitration and end up with a three-year, $2.2 million deal before a verdict could be handed down – Bouma immediately went belly up. Some of that was due to injuries, some of that was due to no longer having Mikael Backlund piggyback him around the ice, some of that was due to his abnormal 15.4% shooting percentage come crashing down. It was a bad deal the moment it was signed, but it was signed all the same, and perhaps set a standard.
There are a couple of key differences between Bouma and Ferland, though. Like Bouma, Ferland had a shooting percentage this past season he may not be able to replicate; however, it wasn’t as exaggerated as Bouma’s was. Like Bouma, Ferland got to share the ice with some players above his talent level; unlike Bouma, he actually looked like he belonged with them. And unlike Bouma, he’s never gotten a real shot at ice time: Bouma averaged 14:01 in his contract season, while Ferland’s career high is 12:37 from 2015-16.
Ferland is who the Flames wished Bouma was when they signed him to that $6.6 million contract. So… maybe Ferland should get the deal he got?
Like Bouma, Ferland will be 25 when his next deal starts. Also like Bouma, he’ll be eligible for arbitration. Unlike Bouma, though, he might just live up to that deal.
The Curtis Glencross deal
I’m not sure why Curtis Glencross has popped up in my head as of late – just that he has, and I wonder if his last NHL contract could be a basis for Ferland’s next.
Say the Flames want to sign Ferland to a four-year deal. That takes up some of Ferland’s UFA years, which drives the price up; however, we are talking about a kid who was justifiably making under $1 million this past season, so it can’t go up too high. Then again, that’s the risk with longer-term deals – you hope the player is going to be worth more than his contract before his contract expires.
That was part of the logic with Glencross. Coming off of a 43-point season in 2010-11, Glencross – who had carried a $1.2 million cap hit the three previous seasons – was due for a raise. He’d scored 20 goals and looked to be on the verge of 30, and at 29 years of age, this was probably his best shot for a big deal. He opted for what looked like a hometown discount – complete with no movement clause – that saw him average $2.55 million over four years.
Here’s the question: could that be a comparable for Ferland?
Ferland’s career high in points is 25, but then, he’s only two full seasons into his career. Glencross nearly broke 50 points the first year into his deal, but then fell off due to shortened seasons and injuries; however, his point-per-game average was still over .60 the next two seasons, which is higher than Ferland has ever reached.
On the other hand, Ferland is younger, noted for his physicality, and has plenty of potential to grow into a scoring role. Imagine if he does become Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan’s regular linemate – and at a $2.55 million cap hit? You take that every day.
The downside would be Ferland playing on, like, the third line (that’s a lie – the real downside would be the coaching staff continuing to underestimate him yet again for no apparent reason, but maybe a raise puts a stop to that). A $2.55 million cap hit for an effective third liner is hardly disastrous.
Who else scored at Ferland’s level?
Ferland’s season was fractured between first and fourth line circumstances, but ultimately, a season is the sum of its parts, good and bad. Ferland averaged .33 points per game this past season, as did:
- Justin Abdelkader (30 years old, $4.25 million cap hit)
- Joel Armia (24 years old, $925,000 cap hit on his second contract)
- Brian Boyle (32 years old, expiring $2 million cap hit)
- Alexander Burmistrov (25 years old, expiring $1.55 million cap hit)
- Melker Karlsson (26 years old, expired $1.65 million cap hit, re-signed to three-year, $2 million per deal)
- Scott Wilson (25 years old, $625,000 cap hit on his second contract)
Other players who scored at roughly the same rate and are about Ferland’s age include Mikkel Boedker, Zach Hyman, Tanner Kero, Jordan Martinook, and Jimmy Vesey. Boedker ($4 million cap hit) and Vesey ($3.775 million cap hit) were signed as free agents, so their price was higher, while Kero has already been re-signed to a cheap two-year, $750,000 deal.
Hyman and Martinook, however, could be guys to keep an eye on as potential contract comparables: all three are ’92 birthdays who are just beginning to establish themselves in the NHL (Ferland has the most games played but the lowest points per game, but just barely) looking for new deals this offseason.
So where does that leave Ferland’s new deal? I’d ballpark it anywhere from two-four years, with a cap hit around $2 million or so, depending on the Flames’ levels of faith and commitment (Karlsson is a pretty decent comparable, and over his career to date he’s scored more).
Ferland is an exciting player, but he still has to prove himself beyond a couple of flashes in one 2015 playoff round and the final quarter of the 2016-17 season. That said, he’s also very much earned his impending raise.