101
Photo Credit: James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports

Is Micheal Ferland the ideal linemate for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan?

It would seem that, after a couple of seasons of being underestimated by his own team, Micheal Ferland will finally be getting his chance – at least according to Brad Treliving, and at least to start the season.

Lineup decisions aren’t necessarily up to Treliving – that’s more Glen Gulutzan’s territory – but there was one quote of his when speaking to Kristen Odland back during Stampede that was of considerable interest.

This may hint that the Flames aren’t in pursuit of a top line right wing this offseason, because it seems to reason they think they may already have one in Ferland. If they do, then that provides an immediate internal solution to the one problem the team hasn’t really addressed this offseason, and may not even be able to due to both the cap and a decline of assets they’re willing to part with.

It’s an unprecedented sign of faith in the winger, who made his NHL debut in the 2014-15 season, but has only averaged 11:50 minutes over the 173 NHL games he has played thus far. Ferland has had bursts of exceptional play – in the first round of the 2015 playoffs, in the final quarter of the 2016-17 season – but they’ve been just that, bursts. Maybe because he isn’t capable of more, or maybe because he’s never gotten a regular chance.

It’s also a bet, to be sure. Is it the right one?

Top line candidates

Let’s call Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan’s line the top line. It seems unlikely they’ll be split up; over the course of their careers to date they’ve clicked, and they’ve been the top two scorers on the team the past two years (and both were in the top three during Gaudreau’s rookie year). Let’s also assume the Flames don’t add any new forwards.

Aside from, say, Spencer Foo or Emile Poirier coming out of nowhere, then there really aren’t that many options. Other than Ferland, there’s Matthew Tkachuk, Kris Versteeg, Michael Frolik, Troy Brouwer, and Curtis Lazar, to varying degrees. Lazar is included basically as a courtesy: he’s a right shot and the organization clearly believes in him, but probably not to quite that extent at this point.

Using numbers from Puckalytics’ SuperWOWY tool, we know that from 2014-17, Gaudreau and Ferland played 5v5 2,221:17 minutes together. They put together a 50.3% CF, a 54.9% GF, all with a 58.5% offensive zone start.

Tkachuk, who will be playing just his second season in the NHL, has played all of five even strength minutes with Gaudreau and Monahan, so his numbers won’t be included below. He’s more of a theoretical choice to be their linemate, but one with good reason to be excited: he had a 48-point rookie season (more than Monahan and Sam Bennett) all the while being a physical player and advanced stats darling, and he can play all three forward positions. We don’t have any real evidence that Tkachuk may work as the pair’s linemate, but it’s certainly an exciting prospect.

As for Ferland, Versteeg, Frolik, and Brouwer, keep in mind smaller sample sizes. All numbers below are 5v5, and with Gaudreau and Monahan:

Player TOI CF% GF% OZS%
Ferland 395:42 52.2 56.8 56.4
Versteeg 65:41 52.5 33.3 52.2
Frolik 98:58 48.6 27.3 58.2
Brouwer 119:27 55.3 55.6 61.5

Everyone has been relatively sheltered alongside Gaudreau and Monahan, which makes sense: they’re the team’s top scorers, they’re there to score, and as such, they should be expected to receive more offensive zone starts. That said, Brouwer’s were notably higher, and produced only marginally better corsi results; the tradeoff probably isn’t worth it, even if Brouwer stops sinking almost all of his linemates.

Ferland has had, by far, the most amount of playing time with Gaudreau and Monahan, which lends the most credence to his results, all of which are positive – especially the goals for. Versteeg suffers from a much smaller sample size – recall he played with Gaudreau and Monahan only at the start of the 2016-17 season, when none of the three had practiced together and the Flames were horrid to start – but his underlying numbers hint towards him being a good option as well.

Frolik has about as limited a sample size as Versteeg, and during those nearly 100 minutes, things clearly didn’t work out. He’s the only one of the four to have actually brought Gaudreau and Monahan’s CF own below 50. But why would you want to split him up from Mikael Backlund, anyway?

With Ferland you’ve got more evidence that he works with them, with the added bonus of being closer to them in age, and a much more physical presence. It’s possible someone else on the roster could be a better option, but why mess with something you’ve got very good reason to believe will work?

Compatibility

I want to revisit Ryan Stimson’s Playing Styles Tableau, which we previously took a look at regarding T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic’s potential compatibility. It’s not a surefire assessment, but it’s a nice, simplified way of looking at how players may work together based on their skill sets.

To get started, here’s Gaudreau (purple) and Monahan (teal), just by themselves:

Gaudreau and Monahan are both strong players. According to Stimson’s work, Gaudreau is better at dangerous shot contributions, while Monahan is better at transition play; both seem to be lacking at shot volume, though, so ideally their right wing will help out with that.

Let’s start with Ferland (blue).

Ferland is clearly a lesser player than the other two – which is to be expected – but he definitely looks to fill that shot volume requirement (and we saw some of that over the final quarter of the season. Both in how Ferland’s goal totals shot up, and how Monahan and Gaudreau both had 47 shots each, while Ferland had 39 – without the benefit of extra ice time [Ferland’s highest raw totals never even touched Gaudreau and Monahan’s averages] or powerplay time). At a glance, the fit is there.

Next up, let’s do Versteeg (yellow), who looks like a suitable enough option in his own right.

Versteeg is clearly a good player, but he doesn’t appear to fill anything Gaudreau and Monahan are missing. On the contrary, he looks quite a bit like Gaudreau already does. He’s probably not going to hurt that line, but nobody covers up for any weaknesses.

Frolik (red) is clearly right at home alongside Backlund, but let’s just take a look at how he may do on this theoretical line anyway.

This isn’t surprising at all. Frolik was second on the Flames in total shots with 202, behind Dougie Hamilton. He was the shooter on the 3M line (Backlund scored more goals, but he had a higher shooting percentage). Theoretically, they could work after all, but the results haven’t been present in nearly 100 minutes of even strength play. He looks like a stronger option than Ferland now – but that may be because Ferland hasn’t gotten a proper chance yet. It makes more sense to go with Ferland and hope he can develop further yet, all the while keeping Backlund and Frolik together.

Up next is Brouwer (red), who was signed for a much bigger role than what ended up happening…

Yeah, no. He’s hidden underneath the other two, and it doesn’t look like he’ll really add anything, certainly not in the way Ferland should. Maybe Brouwer won’t have as bad a season as he did in 2016-17, but it probably won’t be on Gaudreau and Monahan’s line – and it’s not worth trying to get a bounceback season out of him at the expense of the top two scorers.

Finally, let’s look at Tkachuk (orange), who only has one season of work to show thus far, but a ton of potential.

There absolutely could be something there. It’s very early yet in Tkachuk’s career, and he’ll almost certainly get better and have more to show – but unless there’s an appetite to get him off of the 3M line (or on Bennett’s line to give him a responsible partner a bit closer in age than Versteeg), then it’s hard to see this happening. (Though it might make sense to load up on a top powerplay unit, and see where things go from there.)

Who’s the best candidate?

I think there are two schools of thought here: do you want to load up the top of the lineup, or do you want to spread things out between the lines?

If you want the former, then Tkachuk and Ferland should probably swap spots. Tkachuk simply has more potential than Ferland (he’s matched Ferland’s career total in points in just his rookie season). Ferland’s no slouch, but he’s probably not as strong offensively as Tkachuk is, opportunity given or not. We know Ferland can perform well on a line not expected to score, at least, but playing alongside Backlund and Frolik is definitely a cut above wasting away on the fourth line.

If you want the latter, though, then Ferland on the top line makes sense. Taking away the potential Tkachuk has, none of the other options seem to match up to Ferland: not in fit with Gaudreau and Monahan, nor in underlying numbers.

So the idea that this is now Ferland’s moment makes a lot of sense. What he does with that chance remains to be seen, but he isn’t getting it undeservedly. And after three seasons of trudging away on the bottom lines, it’s about time.

    • Ari Yanover

      Haha. His playing style tableau is almost identical to Gaudreau’s, actually, just smaller. Same strengths, same weaknesses. Which I suppose should be encouraging for Gaudreau!

    • Greatsave

      Surprisingly, he’s also entirely covered by each of Gaudreau and Monahan individually, with the exception of a slight edge in “Dangerous Shot Contributions” over Monahan.

      I still think Treliving needs to look into Nestrasil. Stimson’s chart seems to say he’d be a good fit too, if covering the “Shot Volume” weakness is the objective.

  • freethe flames

    When you use the ideal then the answer is no to both Tkachuk and Ferland; the ideal RW is playing somewhere else. Both of your conclusions about what Tkachuk and Ferland might bring to the Johnny and Monny line are pretty accurate. I would prefer to have 3 or 4 strong lines than a really strong line and two 3rd lines. If guys earn their way onto the team I would love to see something like this: Johnny/Monny/Ferland(ozone starts 1st pp), Janko/Backs/Frolik(dzone starts PK minutes all around), Tkachuk/Bennett/Lazar(BLT the sandwich line, ozone starts 2/3 of the 2nd PP with Versteeg replacing Lazar), and Versteeg/Stajan/Hathaway(Brouwer???).

    • Craig

      No to Jankowski on the backlund frolik line, what has he ever shown that people keep putting him there? He had a pretty good season in the AHL and people say he’s a two way player. But he’s a rookie, and he’s certainly not as talented as Tkachuk who is the exception to the rule of a rookie taking on the other teams BEST players. Jankowski should start in the AHL or at best the fourth line. Full stop.

      I get it would be nice for Tkachuk to play with Bennet, but as long as Bennett is palying with Versteeg and not Brouwer that line will be ok.

      • freethe flames

        Craig; your point that Janko has not proven anything at the NHL level is well taken but as I frequently say he has to earn this spot. The people who frequently talk about his two way game are scouts, NCAA coaches, AHL coaches, AGM, GM and NHL coaches which has led to me and many others that he probably has a pretty good 200 foot game and if given a chance might prove it. The best line to prove this on and learn to be an NHLer seems to me to be Backs/Frolik; but again only if he earns this spot. Think about both Bennett and Tkachuk how much better they looked with Backs/Frolik as their linemates. Bennett struggled when he was moved in his rookie year and was not the same player at center last year as he was on the LW with Backs/Frolik. ( I still believe he will develop at center especially with better line mates). Tkachuk struggled at the start of the season with Bennett and Brouwer on his line and did not step up until he played with Backs/Frolik; why would you not provide the same opportunity to your teams best forward prospect this year?(If you think there is a better prospect at forward than Janko please let me know who and why?) Again let me make it clear that Janko has to earn the spot but I would sure take a look at this as an option in the preseason. It might not work out and you can always send him down if he struggles.

        • Craig

          You’re saying he has to earn the spot but also penciling him.

          The biggest problem I have with everyone speculating the roster like this is it breaks up arguably one of the most effective lines in the NHL last year. So what happens with your projected roster is Tkachuk moves down into a third line role, with less minutes so that an unproven rookie can take second line minutes against the best players in the league.

          Why not stick with Johnny/Monny/Ferland
          Tkachuk/Backlund/Frolik
          Versteeg/Bennett/Lazar
          Stajan/Janko/Brouwer

          Stajan and Janko can be interchangeable. At that point he really can earn a spot higher up if he’s effective. You have a top scoring line that as Ari points out compliments eachother, a proven line that plays against the best in the league, a third line that showed great flashes in the playoffs, and a fourth line that gets limited minutes but Janko gets to learn to be an NHL centre.

          I’ll hear arguments for someone instead of Lazar (not Brouwer) but why start shifting effective lines around to accommodate Jankowski?

          It doesn’t make sense and I see it in the comments here all the time.

          • freethe flames

            I don’t see how playing Janko with Stajan and Brouwer helps anyone? If you had suggested him with Stajan and Versteeg I might see some potential there. My hope is that by moving Tkachuk to Bennett is that Bennetts game improves and I don’t think you lose a lot with Janko with Backs/Frolik and the preseason is the time to try it.

      • BurningSensation

        The point of putting Jankowski with Backlund+Frolic is to give him veteran cover, and positive role models defensively. He is a rookie who will make rookie mistakes, having two well developed two way players to shelter him is the smart thing to do.

        • Craig

          Which he gets on the fourth line as well, except on the fourth line he doesn’t play against the leagues best lines, so if he does make a mistake it’s less likely it’s in the back of the net.

          • Atomic Clown

            You don’t put a first round pick on the fourth line with s**t minutes and teammates. Imagine we’d done that with Bennett. Backlund and Frolik can elevate anyone’s game, best to put a rookie in with them, they learn the game from one of the best 200 feet players in the game

          • Couldn’t reply to Atomic Clown directly for some reason but I think we did do that with Bennett. I don’t think that Jankowski and Bennett are comparable. Bennett has a much higher ceiling. I think starting Jankowski on the 4th line with opportunity to move to 3rd is a good start to see what he is made of.

          • Puckhead

            @44stampede – at this point in time it is impossible to compare Bennett and Janko with regards to who has a higher ceiling. They’re both good 2-way centres. Bennett has more grit and is a well rounded player but Janko and is bigger and might have more top end skill. Based on Janko’s development path It wouldn’t surprise me to see him eventually fill Backlund’s role.

    • Atomic Clown

      @44stampede lol we gave Bennett s**t teammates, but I do believe he was always second line center, or on Backlund’s wing. Best part of Bennett’s career was on the 2M line. I’d like Jankowski to be able to play with such responsible players as well.

    • Albertabeef

      If I’m putting MT on Benny’s line I’d put him on the right with Mangiapane on the left. The all play such a smiler style I think it becomes your coring line two with Backs and Frolij as your top checking like with Versteeg. If you bring in Janks it’s probably with Stajan. We really don’t have room for Brouwer. We have a team of first rounders. They can’t all play the first line. If we dump Brouwer we can roll four high threat lines. We need Hartley as a offensive assistant coach lol.

  • everton fc

    Is Micheal Ferland the ideal linemate for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan? Right now, yes. Again, I think he’ll get 20-plus goals if they leave him on RW w/Gaudreau and Monahan – especially if they give him time on the PP, which he deserves…

    Of course, he’s a natural LW. So if Tkachuk moves “up”, a line of Ferland/Backlund/Frolik would be potentially dangerous, as well.

  • Rudy27

    Ferland brings a controlled aggression to the Jonny/Monny line that gives them space and time to do their magic. He also has good speed and a great shot to go along with the big hits. Tkachuk brings toughness too, but his style of getting under the competition’s skin leads to a lot of scrums that we wouldn’t want Jonny and Monny involved in (nor would they).

    • Ari Yanover

      Ferland’s toughness used to be out of control, too (that Canucks playoff series was super aggressive). Tkachuk was a rookie – I think there’s some reason to believe he’ll learn to reign it in.

      • Kevin R

        Sorry Ari, don’t agree with you. Ferly went wild during that playoff season but remember, that was his first real taste of a regular spot in the lineup & the team was jacked about getting to the playoffs against all odds. He played way more controlled the following year & last year. Tkachuk is going to be one of those player, every other team is going to hate but wish they had. I think his Dad engrained that chippy component to his game.

    • Kevin R

      Excellent post as that was my thought as well. Ferland is the better fit with Monahan & Gaudreau than Tkachuk based on personality. Which is why I think Tkachuk & Bennetts personalties go pretty good as well. When MT stirs the pot & scrums erupt, Benny will be right in there. For them I think they need another abrasive RW with skills. Maybe Lazar can do that, maybe Poirrier but can you imagine what Brown from the Leafs would be like on that RW. Bottom line, Ferly on that top line is the way to go.

  • Atomic Clown

    Ferland has the hands, the shot and the body. Simply based on what we have in the cupboards, and what’s available on the market, there’s no need to make n outside acquisition. Internally, the two best options are Tkachuk and Ferland, but if we want to spread out talent, as well as give Bennett proper teammates, Tkachuk needs to play with Bennett, leaving Ferland on the top line. I also believe that on the PP, rather than having Bennett play center, put him on the wing, but just for the PP

  • Fan the Flames

    Ferland is not the ideal line mate for Johnny and Mony but you would be hard pressed to find a better fit in the Flames roster. I like the fact that he adds toughness to the line and teams need to beware if they take liberties with Johnny . He can deliver the consequences and he has a good shot . He does a good job of turning over pucks . What Ferlie needs to improve is to bring his A game every night and every shift .

    • Joe Flames

      First line RW: Other teams have Kane, Kucherov, Wheeler, Tarasenko.
      Sadly, Ferland might be the best fit we have for first line RW. Frolik is a RW2, after him we have a bunch of 3-4 liners.
      And not enough cap space to get one unless we trade some contracts. Let’s hope someone takes a step forward this year.

  • Newbietwo

    Let’s break down our forwards

    Monohan-Two way forward
    Backlund-Two way forward
    Frolik-Two way forward
    Stajan-Two way forward
    Lazar-Two way forward/Power Forward tbd
    Jankowski-Two way Forward
    Poirier-Two way forward
    Klimchuk-Two way forward

    Versteeg-Playmaker
    Johnny-Playmaker

    Bennett-Power forward/Playmaker
    Ferland-Power forward
    Brouwer-Power forward
    Thachuk-Power forward
    F Hamilton-Power forward

    Spencer Foo-Sniper
    Shinkaruk-Sniper

    Starting to see the issue here? When you build a line players end up assuming roles within that line for example Monohan assumes the role as Sniper when playing with Johnny/ Johnny assumes the role as playmaker and Ferland is stuck between being powerforward/sniper.. if you however play Johnny with a true playmaking centre which we don’t really have although Bennett has that potential. Bennett seems to be the most versatile switch other than Johnny but we have a ton of two way players who aren’t exactly true playmakers or snipers.. I have said for a long while our biggest need on this team in fact is a second line sniper so that Frolik can slot down to play with a Bennett so that Bennett can be more of a playmaker.. or you put Jankowski on his LW

    • Newbietwo

      Some pairings I think can work to maximize

      Johnny/Mony/Chucky
      Versteeg/Backlund/Frolik
      Ferland/Bennett/Lazar
      Stajan/Jankowski/Brouwer

      Johnny/Mony/Ferland
      Chucky/Backlund/Frolik
      Versteeg/Bennett/Lazar
      Jankowski/Stajan/Brouwer

      Johnny/Mony/Bennett
      Chucky/Backlund/Frolik
      Versteeg/Jankowski/Ferland
      Brouwer/Stajan/Lazar

    • piscera.infada

      You are aware that this is not an NHL video game wherein players are locked-in to contained, dichotomous roles, right? I don’t dispute that there are pure snipers, playmakers, et cetera in the league, but obviously overall roster composition and player ability is much more nuanced than that in most cases.

  • Thunder1

    ”Let’s call Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan’s line the top line.”

    O.K. Ari… it’s been a hard, long road you have travelled to finally reach this conclusion, but I for one am glad you made the journey. Having agreed wholeheartedly with your premise that Johnny/Monny/whomever are in fact the Flames first line, it seems to suggest that you have also reached the conclusion that Sean is our bonafide number one centre now and for the forseeable future. I couldn’t agree with you more. However, we must not rest on these accomplishments for there are still many bloggers and commenters on FN that need to be guided to the light and taken to task when they suggest that this is not the case.

    • Ludis Fanaticus

      I know they are not the same type of player or even the same position, but if Monahan’s position on the top line is still a concern for some:

      Monahan after 4 year:
      319 GP 107G 110A 217 point

      Iginla after 4 years
      311 GP 91G 105A 196 point

      I think Monahan is shaping up nicely!

      • TheoForever

        Nice, didn’t know that sure looks like he is going in the right direction. Monahan doesn’t look fast and doesn’t look like he is driving the play, just kind of pops up in the right place at the right time, he is probably underrated considering his stats are best of his draft class, or so I hear.

        • Atomic Clown

          Monhan has the highest hockey IQ out of any flames player. Dude has an in at ability to know where the puck is gonna end up, and he’s always there to tuck in the rebound or loose puck. Also, his snipe is unreal as well

    • Thunder1

      Case in point…Newbie, his name is Monahan and he is under contract for the better part of the next decade. He has scored 107 goals in the past four seasons, more than any other under-25 centre in the NHL. I would suggest he slots more as an offensive forward with a developing defensive game, rather than a two-way forward as you claim.

      • Newbietwo

        I am talking about Monahans style of play.. I have no issue with Monahan in my post you might be missing the point.. He isn’t a playmaker first, his goals come primarily from finishing “sniping” on johnnys plays.. point being roles get assumed on line combos

        • Thunder1

          Agreed, my bad. It’s because I have had to spend so much time defending the kid against the naysayers on FN since he broke in, I tend to get a little defensive. Two-way/powerforward/shutdown centreman/sniper… they are all just descriptions. I look at it this way… Flames are up by one with a minute left to play, I send Backlund’s line out every time because of his two-way game. Flames are down by one with a minute left, Monahan’s getting tapped on the shoulder because of his offensive acumen.

          • Newbietwo

            I hear what you are saying and I’m with you. Monahan is a great young player still identifying his own style of play and balance..

            Having said that we do need to see him uptick in the area of playmaking to get to that next level

  • Jessemadnote

    I’m really surprised at how good Brouwer’s numbers look next to Johnny and Mony. Everyone had me assuming he was a tire fire on the top line. Honestly, what would be ideal is if Brouwer can regain his form and reproduce those numbers over 500+ minutes.

    Johnny Mony Brouwer
    3M line
    Ferland Bennett Versteeg
    Stajan Lazar Hathaway

  • Trevy

    Hands down, yes, Ferland is the best candidate for the top line. Not only has he shown this in a small sample size, but it was mentioned a while ago that Ferland sometimes doesn’t realize how good he is and lacks a bit of confidence. I think to keep him on the top line will just boost that confidence and he’ll perform even better given a bigger audition. Not to mention, it’s evident that both Johnny and Mony’s games escalated once he was inserted into their line. Johnny feels more protected and that was a big issue last season. I also believe Tkachuk/Bennett/Versteeg would form a very effective line and really could very well be considered their 2nd line if successful. Backs’ line with Janko could make a great 3rd shut down line. Unfortunately it’s the 4th line that I think needs the biggest experimentation

  • Just.Visiting

    To put a context on my comments, I like Ferland a lot and thought he had a great season. I was very disappointed with how he was used before he was moved to the first line. Even when he was there and it was obvious that he clicked, I was surprised that he didn’t get first unit PP time as the physical net presence.

    That being said, it’s clear that he is regarded as a temporary measure until something better comes along in the absence of Ferland having an even better start to the year.

    The most obvious answer from an asset management perspective is to move Tkachuk to the first line and Ferland either with the Mikes or with Bennett. Between the two, I prefer having him on the third line because of the complementary skills he can offer in terms of skill and functional toughness.

    The most interesting thing to me in the article was that Tkachuk had all of five minutes of 5X5 time with Monahan and Gaudreau even though he showed high end skill, functional toughness for the corner and front of the net puck fights and that he played RW in junior with great success.

    When it is so obvious that RW is a major organizational concern that might require a diversion of assets in a trade, what kind of asset management was it not to have at least experimented with Tkachuk on the first line last year?

    • Flames fan since 83

      I believe Ferland might blow us away seeing the above Playing Style Tables. Ferland has the fastest and hardest release on the Flames when it comes to shooting ability. If he can get some more time and develope better chemistry with Sean and Johnny, his shot could be very effective.
      And not to mention his shot on the PP.

      Plus, this line can definitely use Ferlands size and heavy play.
      Last, I agree with another commenter, that Tkachuk’s style will mess up the Mony line. Tkachuk will continually draw skirmish and after the whistle incidents that will draw Johhny into it. Then Tkachuk (although often taking an opposition player with him) ends up in the box. All the time Tkachuk spends in the box, further messing up our first line.

      • oilcanboyd

        Ferland is an adept goal scorer and setup man – 47 goals, 49 assists in 86 games in his final year with Brandon. He is the ideal linemate for JG and SM.

  • madjam

    In order for Flames to advance in playoffs this year , they must prepare to beat the likely winner of the Pacific – which looks like it could be the Oilers . So Trevaling appears to be copying the things Oilers did last year to turn their fortunes around . Ferland vs. Maroon . Can Ferland add the scoring and other things Maroon helped do for the Oilers with first line duties last year is the question . A tough or intimidating player on each line seems to be the mantra for the Flames like Oilers did last year . Larsson vs. Hamonic for that stay at home physical defenceman . Seems like Oilers success has Flames doing much the same this year as for makeup . Should prove interesting .

    • Kevin R

      I think its a given of teams trying to match up their lineup with the perceived better more successful teams in their division. I think you are overplaying the size thing a little bit. Even Treliving talked about the need to have 2 solid defensive pairs to match up against the offence/lines of the Oilers whether it’s on the road or at home. That would be the biggest adjustments Flames have made to counter the Oilers. As for the physical side, its the dirty Ducks that one has to consider from that standpoint.

    • TheoForever

      I don’t see Oilers winning the division. They didn’t last year and they have gotten worse, at this point I have them as a bubble team. I’m picking them to finish 9th in the west, although they may finish in 8th if things go their way.
      Sekera gone for part of the season, means Russell is playing as #3, lots to ask from #5. Ebs gone for Strome that sucks 30 points out. It’s hard to believe that Maroon can repeat the scoring, he had 15.2%. Last years schedule was perfect for Oilers and they had no injuries of note. That defense bleeds 2nd chances and high danger shots, can Talbot continue to stand on his head?

        • TheoForever

          Without mickyD oilers are ping pong ball team, no doubt about it. However, don’t worry nobody has gotten 150 points in decades and that includes Crosby. MickyD doesn’t project to be better than the best player in the NHL.

          • piscera.infada

            In absolute fairness, there are pundits who project McDavid to be better than Crosby. Still, 150 points seems an unreasonable projection, simply because no one gets anywhere close to that in today’s NHL.

            Seriously, as much as I despise that jaundiced potato looking weirdo up north, I hate that he plays for them more. I think we’d all be better off if we just acknowledge the fact that he’s likely soon to be the best player in the game, and move on.

          • TheoForever

            Well, he is not the best player in the game yet. He could be and if and when he becomes the best player we can acknowledge it. Some pundits also think that he will not be better than Crosby, we will see. Here is the thing, Oiler fans like to count their chicken early, remember how during the decade of suck all we heard every offseason was how great the Fab 4 was and how they were going to be the best. Well, that didn’t happen, so before anyone crowns them, let them earn it first….. I know they feel entitle but lets get a grip….. Ohh, and besides Oiler trolls come to this site to annoy us, and why not annoy them back……..:)

          • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

            Yes he does. He is the most electrifying player in the league. Who can bring people out of their seats with Godspeed and ability to still control the puck?

        • TheoForever

          ‘Yes he does’ – what? You mean ‘yes, he is?’. Nobody says he is the best, everyone thinks he will be the best. That’s a difference. The best player in the league just led his team to back to back cups and won the Conn Smythe. Did mickyD do that?

      • madjam

        All the odds board pretty much have the Oilers as second odds on favorite to win it all ,
        . All of them rank Oilers ahead of Anaheim , and both quite a separation till the Flames . Oilers added very little from last year other than Strome , but youngster Puljujarvi expected to be a positive player this year . Sekara will be missed but Oilers have a pipeline of defence that should be able to weather that storm . Picking them to be a bubble team seems to run contradictory to what all the pundits feel . They should be better this year with their youth having another season under their belts . You seem to think all young Oilers will digress while Flame players advance – unlikely to happen .

        • TheoForever

          Odds makers are not the holly grail, I believe that odds are in big part based on number of bets made on a team by gamblers, there was an article about that, I will take a look later. Pulju part 2, lets hope it goes better than the first time. What defense and what pipeline? Is this something like the underground railway that we don’t know about? Who are those great d’s. We know they don’t have a #1 defenseman, just two #2’s. Nurse and his partner are an average at best 3rd pairing, just how much progression do you expect, I predict one gets better the other has an off year. The young guys on the Oilers that I expect to improve are MickyD, Drysaddle, Klefbom.
          As for Flames, I expect progression from Bennett, bounce back from Harmonic and therefore Brodie, a few more points from Moneyhands although doesn’t have to have career season. As for the rest I’m expecting to be more or less the same. What I’m hoping is that Smith/Lack can provide average goaltending.

          • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

            Oddsmakers are. It the holy grail but certainly better than that list that sports net brought out yesterday placing Calgary number 1 because they made the most deals. Vancouver right with them

          • TheoForever

            Nobody says Flames are the best team in the league, just one of the most improved. Don’t blame me that your team made a bad deal and failed to improve, and that Drysaddle is holding the team hostage with his contract demands.

        • oilcanboyd

          Oil fans have on their rose colored glasses since they were gifted McD. The Oil were lucky with the lack of injured bodies last year – that bubble started bursting when Sekera went down in the playoffs.

        • TheoForever

          Hmm, added Strome but your forgot to mention what you lost, yap a member of Fab 4 – Ebsy.
          Strome is nothing like Ebsy in terms of skill, except positionally as both are perimeter players.
          Chia just sold another guy for pennies on the dollar, just like he did with Hall. The Oiler patented 6×6 strikes again, one more guy who got paid and went downhill, although I expect a big rebound year on the Island. I would say there is another 6×6 deal that will byte Chia, yes the fabled and storied Lucic deal. However, I just heard from an Oiler fan that Lucic has simillar condition to Hossa, so when time comes he will give up millions of dollars to help the Oilers, like mickyD did with his contract. So, that’s good right.

    • Trevy

      Sorry buddy, but Treliving(which is how it’s spelt) was preaching toughness since day 1. The fact that the goons up north beefed last year has nothing to do with it. I think Chiapet was copying Anaheim and LA blueprint and also wanted to protect his little prized possession. Edm finally had one good year, lets see how they do now that teams will play them tougher this upcoming season. I’m thinking more like 2nd or 3rd in the Pacific

  • Flaming Glory

    I am all for Ferland getting his shot on the top line but I also don’t think he will last. I think Chucky is a better long term solution. We’ve all said he has a higher ceiling than Ferland. So right now the guy with an unbelievingly high ceiling is stuck on the 3rd line. Good for short term so that both Bennett and Chucky can develop against weaker competition but one day Chucky will be better than Ferland and we will have to switch them.

    • supra steve

      Having a Lady Byng winner playing on a line with one of the truly despised players in the league (as Tkachuk is rapidly becoming) along with a #1C that has amassed only 50 PIM in his first 3 seasons combined….well it seems ill thought out.

  • moore_tweets

    “If it aint broke, why fix it”

    I say leave well enough alone with regards to the top 2 lines from last season. Those 2 groupings should only get better together. Tinker in practice/ preseason to see what other options might work. I see no reason why Ferland shouldn’t get a chance at the top line again.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Ferland’s quick release and laser accuracy were skills I didn’t know he possessed at the NHL level until last season. How could they not complement Monahan and Gaudreau? That he also has the size and surliness are a big bonus.

    As long as he can bring his A game night after night, there is no reason why the big man can’t run with the stallions.

  • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

    You really think Draisaitl is holding the team hostage with demands? It’s only mid July. Not into October like Gaudreau did and then played like sh/t the first two months.

    • Puckhead

      Little dude, you should probably take off your Fancy Ass jeans for a spell to get what little blood flow there is to your noggin circulating again. Be careful not to catch your empty nutsack in the zipper.

    • TheoForever

      It was a done deal, before Drysaddle noticed how much MickyD got. Chia once again made a mistake, should have sign the German kid first. Do you think Chia made this choice on advice of the unholy trinity of suck: Low, MacT, Howson, you know the architects of the worst decade of ineptitude in pro sports. The guys that helped him with blockbuster Reinhart trade, hey is he still one of your 5 Giordano’s?

    • TheoForever

      You know we have a minimum of 2 Oiler spys, no doubt nervous about our moves, namely ConnorGotFart and the joker who gives him cheers. Who could it be, perhaps Spector or Gene the so called oiler fan brainwashing brigade?

  • urbzy

    Why do people insist on pencilling Tkachuk on the 3rd line? You think that kid ought to play 3rd line minutes? You want him to have a reduced role on the ice? Seems undesirable. 3m was good enough to be one of the best lines in the league. Why on earth would you tamper with that? The ONLY way you move MT around is to put him on the top line and move Ferly to the 2nd line. That’s. It. Then you can have Bennet with Versteeg and plug in a useful player to complete the line. Don’t ask me who. I don’t know. Maybe wait until someone shows something at camp.

    • piscera.infada

      From my recollection, Gultuzan (at least tried) to roll those top-3 lines pretty much throughout the season. I’m not sure the current game afford the luxury of the traditional 1,2,3,4 dichotomy we used to see all the time. I firmly believe the goal is to have at least three somewhat interchangeable forward lines, with some variance based on matchups. But the old “that player is a third line forward…” line of thinking is somewhat archaic.

      Now that’s not to say “take Tkachuk off the 3M line”, but I do think pairing him with Bennett is something that should at the very least be explored.

      • urbzy

        I get your point completely. Versatility in the lineup is good. But if MT isn’t playing with Johnny, Monny, Baks or Frolik, then he’ll be getting fewer minutes regardless. I don’t think it’s archaic to assume the “third” line or whatever you want to call it will get less ice time than the others. Unless MT/Bennet/whoever earn more ice than the other lines, which seems unlikely.

        • Baalzamon

          Tkachuk, Bennett, and Versteeg all got basically the same amount of icetime last season. Tkachuk actually played the least of the three.

          And they all played less than Brouwer for some reason.

    • freethe flames

      I don’t think anyone is trying to put Tkachuk on the third rather we are suggesting creating 3 effective lines all with different tasks and all capable of producing offence.

        • freethe flames

          At some point you need to build depth to be a really competitive team and with the players we currently have this makes the most sense to me. The other thing that people seem to forget is that a coach is not committed to anything and if the three lines I suggest don’t work then he can easily readjust his lines back. But I would much prefer to have 3 solid lines where the difference is minimal than two good lines and then a significant drop off. Your assumption is that Janko will tank the Backlund line and all the eveidence over the last 3 years suggests just the opposite[Bouma with Backs career year, Colborne with Backs, career year, Bennett with Backs Bennetts best year, Tkachuk moving away from Brouwer to play with Backs an exceptional rookie year]. The Backs/Frolik pairing is just so consistent that it makes sense to give this idea try.

  • Wrote it before but Ferland is a good choice for the top-line as the roster stands. Watching him the final dozen games he kept up with Gaudreau better than Monahan. He thinks fast and has good hands. How many posts and fantastic saves in the last 10-12 games prevented him from getting at least a handful more goals? I think he is going to do well on that line. That is not to say that perhaps there are better options out there to trade for but as it stands he is a good choice.

  • TheoForever

    To me a good line has a playmaker, a scorer and a physical presence. Besides his physical play Ferland has some skills and good speed. So, Ferland is perfect complementary player for Johnny and Monahan. IMHO.

  • RKD

    It’s tricky but if he’s averaging only 11 minutes a game that’s pretty tough if he’s going on the 1st line. Give him some more minutes and see what he can do. He’s probably not going to be the ideal #1 winger or a high end scorer but he seems to have good chemistry and he was no slouch last season acheiving his career best. But, a BIG BUT Ferly has a lot to prove over the next couple of seasons. I think we will know pretty quickly if Ferly is the guy who plays well in short bursts or he can be that consistent winger. Everything isn’t about points but 25 points in 76 games is definitely on the low end but his 15 goals is something to be proud of, it’s a hard league to score in. His playoffs against Anaheim was concerning, he looked very pedestrian and wasn’t the same Ferland against the Canucks two seasons ago.

    • HOFer_dirty30

      He wasn’t the same against anaheim as Vancouver because he is top line now on our scoring line and not a 3/4 line banger causing kaos. Different roles and is a case for taking him off the top line. I would let him keep the spot though till someone takes it or he losses it