After a flurry of offseason activity back in June – acquiring not only their new goaltending tandem for the 2017-18 season, but Travis Hamonic as well – the Calgary Flames mostly have matters of housekeeping left to see to. They’ve achieved one of those items by reportedly re-signing Micheal Ferland to a two-year deal, worth an annual average value of $1.75 million, as per Elliotte Friedman.
Update: the Flames have signed confirmed the deal.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) July 14, 2017
Ferland had filed for arbitration, which put a time limit on when he would re-sign by. Sam Bennett – the Flames’ other prominent restricted free agent – was not eligible for arbitration, so Ferland’s contract took priority. And now it appears to be done, leaving the Flames with a slightly clearer picture of their cap.
By re-signing for two years, Ferland is betting on himself. His first UFA year is set to begin once this contract expires in 2019. Had the Flames re-signed him for three or more years, he likely would have gotten more money (and had a higher cap hit); by making sure his contract expires right when he’s set to hit unrestricted free agency, Ferland is counting on a big couple of seasons to prove he’s worth a much higher cap hit.
By re-signing him for two years, the Flames are being cautious. They know they have an NHLer in Ferland, but they don’t know just how good he is. In his time with the Flames, Ferland has primarily been used in a bottom six capacity, and he’s succeeded at that. He’s also had two separate stints with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, and has appeared to succeed with them as well, helping them post positive corsi numbers both times as a line. He also scored seven goals with them in the final quarter of the season, and is currently slated to play with them to start 2017-18.
The Flames have been burned as of late by betting on longer term deals to non-core players. Lance Bouma had a career season and was completely unable to follow up on it, resulting in his buyout. Troy Brouwer was signed to a four-year deal and his first year was a disaster. By keeping Ferland at just two years, they risk having to pay him more down the line – or potentially losing him to another team in free agency – but they also ensure they don’t make another bad bet. And if Ferland proves to be a top line player in the long run – that is to say, more than a good stint over a quarter of a season – then paying him what he’ll be worth then should be an easier move to digest.
At $1.75 million, Ferland carries the same cap hit as Kris Versteeg, as well as Jordan Weal (25 years old, 37 NHL games played, 12 points scored) and Brett Ritchie (24 years old, 117 games played, 34 points). Ferland, 25, has 173 games played and 48 points. Twenty-five of his points came this past season, 10 in the final 21 games.
Melker Karlsson, 26, scored at the same rate as Ferland this past season (.33 points per game; 185 total games played, 65 career points), and was re-signed by the Sharks to a three-year, $2 million AAV deal. Zack Kassian, 26, scored 24 points this past season (313 total games played, 98 career points), and was re-signed by the Oilers to a three-year, $1.95 million AAV deal.
Ferland’s reported contract leaves the Flames with roughly $8.11 million in cap space. Sam Bennett and Curtis Lazar still need to be re-signed, and the Flames will need another two forwards and a defenceman under contract to fill out their lineup.