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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation player evaluation: Micheal Ferland

For much of the 2017-18 season, Micheal Ferland rounded out the top line alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. After finishing 2016-17 as the Flames’ first line right winger, Ferland was poised to continue in that role, one in which he flourished in after finally being given a chance to succeed.

2017-18 season summary

Ferland, drafted 133rd overall by the Flames in 2010, started off the campaign on the Flames’ first line. No longer needing an audition, his performance to end off 2016-17 was enough to convince the coaches that that spot was his. The first month of the season started off slowly for Ferland, but as November came around, he showed flashes of brilliance and looked like he could truly belong on the first line for good. By the midpoint of the season, Ferland was on pace for 36 goals and 16 assists.

Unfortunately, not too long after his 41st game, his scoring completely dried up and thus began his scoring drought. That didn’t stop him from setting career highs in both goals and assists though, as he eclipsed his previous career point total by 16 points.

Games played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% rel OZS% PDO
77 21 20 41 15:01 51.93 -1.99 56.10 1.016

Truth be told, Ferland worked well on the first line. Surpassing the 20-goal threshold for the first time in his career, he boasted a shooting percentage of 14.6%. While this deviates from his career average, Ferland has shown that he is definitely capable of scoring, especially given the right linemates. For the first half of the season, Ferland was the Flames’ best scorer, period. Of course, he cashed in most of his luck early and seriously struggled to find the back of the net in the later months of the season.

On top of scoring goals, Ferland was setting up goals at an appreciable rate as well. Of his 20 assists, 16 of them were primary. Gaudreau was the biggest beneficiary of Ferland’s passing; eight of Ferland’s primary assists were on Gaudreau’s goals. Given that his season was broken up so distinctly into two halves in terms of scoring, it would not be unreasonable to think his potential lies somewhere in the middle.

Playing predominantly with Monahan and Gaudreau, the Flames accomplished a rare feat: the first line consisted entirely of Flames draftees. When he wasn’t playing on the top line, Ferland also skated with Mark Jankowski and Sam Bennett here and there, but Gulutzan was mostly consistent in keeping the first line intact.

Compared to last season

Ferland spent much of last season playing with a carousel of linemates. Finding stability in the form of a top line winger was a definite factor in elevating Ferland’s play. He saw a significant increase in ice time, as his average went from 11:34 TOI/GP to 15:01. Not only did his scoring increase, he also largely stayed out of penalty trouble. He had 24 penalty minutes to his name this season compared to the 50 he had the year prior. He also took more shots, registering 144 shots on net by season’s end, good for seventh on the team among forwards.

Ferland was put in positions to succeed and he took advantage of it. Playing on the first line, he was used in the most offense-driven role he’s ever been in. Unsurprisingly, Ferland saw large improvements in several areas of his game.

Perhaps the most revealing way to look at his improvements are seen by looking beyond raw totals and comparing his production rates. His CF/60 increased from 53.39 to 62.60 and his high danger CF/60 went from 9.66 to 13.10. Of course, there is a lot to be said about spending an entire season with Monahan and Gaudreau rather than just the latter portions of one, but Ferland undeniably had a bigger impact for the Flames this time around.

What about next season?

Whether the Flames go and find someone else to fill Ferland’s role on the first line, or continue to play him there, they are certainly not in a conflicting situation. If they do opt to push him down the lineup in favour of someone better, then the obvious outcome is that their first line will indeed get better. But so too will their forward depth.

Pushing Ferland down to a second line role (perish the thought of breaking up 3M), or even a third line role bodes well for the Flames as Ferland is a capable NHLer who will thrive in the circumstances he is put into. However, if the Flames opt to keep him as a first line winger, the established chemistry of the first line would be one less problem to worry about and the Flames can continue to find other ways to best fill out their forward depth.

Despite Ferland shooting at high percentages in his last two seasons, there’s nothing to suggest he won’t keep scoring even if his shooting percentage regresses. Will he ever put up 30 goals in a season? Maybe, he might just do it once or twice if he manages to catch lightning in a bottle. But mixing in a dose of cautioned optimism, if all goes well for Ferland then the Flames might at least be able to say they’ve found a possible 20+ goal scorer for the next few seasons.

Ferland’s play next season likely ties directly into where he slots into the lineup. His scoring totals, ice time, and usage might all differ from this season, but he is a dependable player who’s able to play in different roles. He’ll likely start next season playing with Monahan and Gaudreau. While it remains unknown who Brad Treliving might seek to permanently fill that spot, Ferland is a good choice in the interim.


#5 – Mark Giordano #7 – TJ Brodie
#8 – Chris Stewart #10 – Kris Versteeg
#11 – Mikael Backlund #13 – Johnny Gaudreau
#15 – Tanner Glass #18 – Matt Stajan
#19 – Matthew Tkachuk #20 – Curtis Lazar
#21 – Garnet Hathaway #23 – Sean Monahan
#24 – Travis Hamonic #25 – Nick Shore
#26 – Michael Stone #27 – Dougie Hamilton
#33 – David Rittich #36 – Troy Brouwer
#41 – Mike Smith #44 – Matt Bartkowski
#61 – Brett Kulak #67 – Michael Frolik
#77 – Mark Jankowski

  • moodyblue2

    Ferly has earned a spot on the team here! Always does what is asked of him, got his personal life in order and is a class act! Other teams I’m sure would be interested but thanks but no thanks!

  • Rocket66

    Im willing to bet ferland was not a fan if the coach He did very good until gg decided to start demoting him. Giving brouwer powerplay time put him in the fourth line. My opinion is gg sycked his confidence and swagger away that he had at the start if the year

    • Mickey O

      Ferland always seemed to be GG’s choice to slip down the line-up so he could give his beloved Brouwer more ice-time. That didn’t exactly work out well for the team, or Gulutzan. Let’s hope that Ferland gets a fair shake from the new coach.

        • oilcanboyd

          Hey, here’s hoping! But in the post-hire presser he stated that he feels that Brouwer can rejuvenate his career….(maybe Tre coached him to say this!). As an incoming coach I would not made a comment on Brouwer – neither praising or dumping on him.

          • McRib

            “post-hire presser her stated that he feels Brouwer can rejuvenate his career“

            Oof, what extremely funny about this is Brouwer actually did rejuvenate his career last season in a way. He went from being utterly horrible to just tepid and simply not an NHLer if you look closely at his numbers he did rebound, but his rebounding is now still way below replacement level. Anyone who thinks a heavy footed skater at 32 years old is going to get better than he did last year is in major denial, especially in this day and age where teams like Pittsburgh and Vegas have four lines filled with skilled mid-sized speedsters.

          • Kevin R

            I dont think for a second Peters & Tre had discussions about Brouwer prior to that press conference. I think what they basically confirmed is that Brouwer will not be bought out this summer but if he doesnt play the way he was expected when he got that 4.5 mill contract, I would take bets that we will probably see Brouwer waived this upcoming season. He was basically put on notice at the pressor.

    • Jessemadnote

      I agree that there was mismanagement but I think the issue wasn’t the demotions. I think despite GGs claims to have a system of pairings he stuck with the exact same top 9 for way too long, The top line’s scoring ran dry after January, 3M had a 46% goals for last year, and Bennett Jank and Hathaway disappeared for weeks on end. If it had always been a bit more fluid to switch Tkachuk and Ferly or put Bennett up with Backlund and Frolik or give Janko a veteran mentor on his line I think a lot of those extended dry spells could have been avoided.

  • Off the wall

    I love Ferland.
    He was consistent defensively and chipped in with pretty decent offensive numbers. It’s interesting that he had the best defensive game out of all Flames players and overall hits on the team.

    Both Gaudreau and Monahan took over 200 shots this season.
    Ferland had144 shots.
    144 shots and 21 goals. 15 of those were even strength. He’s got a great shot, I just hope he uses it more.

    We know what he can do when he plays his aggressive style of game. The Vancouver playoff series was the best we have seen him play.

    If he can maintain consistency, he will have success, no matter who he plays with.

    • McRib

      Something I hated about GG is we never had traffic in front of the oppositions net, it felt like he was coaching against it. Therefore every shot was a clean look for the goaltender, someone like Ferland under a new system could also be more effective if he is allowed to play in the trenches in the slot.

  • Mickey O

    Ferland’s season was puzzling to say the least. Half way through the year he looked to be a cinch to get 30 goals playing on the top line, with some PP time thrown in. Then his game really fell off the table. He started getting maintenance days, and then was finally classified as being injured at the end of February, and missed 4 games.

    I don’t think it was ever definitively stated what injury Ferland was playing through. There were rumours of concussion problems, and he wasn’t his usual physical self during the last part of the year. Monahan’s injuries were well documented; he had 4 surgeries after the season. But with Ferland nobody outside of the organization seems to know why he was scratched.

    When he’s playing well, Ferland is a force and somebody to be reckoned with as a legitimate scorer. He’s one of my favourite Flames’ players, but we still don’t really know what Micheal Ferland is. A legit top line winger who still has more to show, or a very useful middle six player? Ferland is still an enigma that keeps fans guessing where he fits in the line-up.

    • Rudy27

      Here’s my thoughts. Ferland definitely wasn’t his normal self the last half of the season. I suspect it was due to concussion issues, and because he is a heavy weight on the team, the Flames probably would want to keep that under their hat so he isn’t targeted for the rough stuff by opposing teams. Monahan playing through several injuries in the second half probably affected Ferland’s output as well. Think about it. Your top line in the second half is playing with 1 player at 100%, 1 at 75%, and Monahan at 50% due to injuries. So basically the line played the second half at 75% their potential.

      • Mickey O

        Agree that the top line obviously wasn’t playing at full health. But the concussion narrative doesn’t seem to hold true somehow. These days you don’t miss practices, and then play later on if you have concussion issues. You rightfully get shut-down like Tkachuk and Brodie were at the end of the season. Long gone are the days when you have your bell rung and you suck it up and play through it.

        I thought Ferland looked a lot better in the last couple of games of the season, and was back to playing a more physical game. It looks like he didn’t have any post season surgery, so I guess fans will never really know what Ferland was dealing with.

        • calgaryfan

          Ferland, Monahan were playing as the Flames thought they were making a run at a playoff spot, players were not sat until the Flames were out. I believe Ferland has concussion issues and should stay away from fighting.

      • oilcanboyd

        ..and the other half was wrought with an ineffective Brouwerplay and PK where a goal at key points in a game would have made a difference! He, this team isn’t that far away from competing for top spot in the Pac Div.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        He had a fight one game and left the penalty box holding his hand gingerly. Think it may have been the DET fiasco, not 100% sure. He seemed to struggle from that point onward, which also coincided with Monahan’s struggles.

        Ferland should be considered as an option for Backlund’s LW, if they keep Tkachuk there or RW if they move Tkachuk elsewhere. Frolik just doesn’t have the shot anymore. Ferland need to shoot, since he actually has one of the better ones. Would like to see him use a one-timer every now and then.

  • Garry T

    If Ferland had a coach that realized what Ferland’s capabilities were and sought to focus him and convince him of the type of player he could be, the sky is the limit for him. He’s had either one or two concussions from hits from behind. I worry about that. But would not trade him ever. Just get him motivated every night and turn him loose. He could carry a team on his own.

  • oilcanboyd

    I would keep Ferland on the first line and seek an effective second line winger for Bennett-Jankowski, would be more cost-effective and the top six would also bebetter. But who knows – maybe one of our prospects will shine in training camp and win a spot…

    • oilcanboyd

      Ferland is effective on the first line as he gives more room for Johnny/Mony and man he has made some nice moves in the O-zone to score or pass off. Caps play TomWilson on the frst line, don’t they? and in my opinion Ferland is better.

    • Mickey O

      It was a very short audition, but I liked what Foo brought to the table. A shoot first mentality, and then crash the net looking for a rebound. It is overly simplistic, but Foo on RW would give that line a digger-passer-shooter dynamic.

    • rusty_shakleforde

      Definitely! Keep Ferly on the top line, get a strong scoring second line, and then a solid defensive third line with some consistent scoring. Plug in some of our young guys here and there, and then all of a sudden trading Brodie for a 2rw seems like it would solve a lot of issues. We would have to break up the beloved 3m line, and Jankowski would have to really step up (or we have Backlund anchor the second line, which I definitely would think would work).

      JG-SM-MFer
      MT-MJ-(RW)
      Foo-MB-MFro

      -OR-

      JG-SM-MFer
      MT-MB-(RW)
      Mangiapane-MJ-MFro

  • Dougiefred

    Ferland made the team by being tough and a guy to beware of a evidenced in the Canucks series.
    If he won’t or can’t play like that again maybe it is time to move him.
    Had hoped we had a guy who was tough and could score goals (Probert light) and a protector for Johnny, it’s just not happening.

    • calgaryfan

      whats wrong with Ferland scoring goals and playing hockey, why does he have to be everyones protector. I would prefer he try to stay on the ice and score 30 goals.

    • Cfan in Van

      After a concussion history, he’s needed to switch focus towards his scoring talents, and move away from being a constant wrecking ball. Considering he has the tools to score fairly consistently, while still providing some physical presence, I’m not sure why you’d want him to change, or want to get rid of the guy. Stand-up individual, Flames-drafted and developed, and relatively inexpensive… what’s not to like? Oh ya, he’s not Probert-Light, is that somehow more valuable?

  • Squishin

    The thing I like most about this player is his ability to shoot the puck well. There isn’t enough of that on this team, so Ferland is valuable. I would like to see him on a second scoring line. If you were to (GASP!) break up 3M, you could have a line of Tkachuk-Jankowski-Ferland which could do some damage. Or Tkachuk-Backlund-Ferland if you don’t think Janko is ready for the top 6. Frolik and Bennett are 3rd-liners in my opinion, and there’s no way Ferland should be demoted below them.

  • Fan the Flames

    When he has it going he can be a force . I hope Bill Peters can get him playing at a high level for 82 games . I like him on the wing with Johnny because teams need to play nice when Ferlie is on the ice .

  • Korcan

    Ferland has a great skill set to go along with good size and intimidating strength. What is lacking, up until now at least, is consistency in his game. My preference would be for Tre to find a more consistent winger for the top line and have Ferland, who is also sound defensively, play alongside Backlund.

    Is anyone else concerned by these rumors pertaining to Ferland and concussions? Physical players who become prone to getting concussed, their game drops off substantially because they can no longer play the style of game that made them effective to begin with (exhibit A: Eric Lindros). “If” these rumors re. Ferland last season are accurate that would definitely explain the drastic drop off in his game during the second half. More concerning to management and fans, obviously apart from Mike’s health and quality of life, is the answer to the question: Will he be able to get back to playing “his game”, or will he be the player we all witnessed down the stretch?

    Personally, my sincere hope is that these speculating rumors are just that — rumors, and that Ferland’s inconsistency was just that — inconsistency. I’m sickened and troubled by players having promising careers jeopardized by concussion issues. I love physical hockey, but not at the expense of young men’s careers, and lives, being cut short due to brain injuries. If this means adopting a more IIHF brand of hockey that really focuses on player safety over physicality, maybe the NHL needs to start considering such measures.

    As we are witnessing with Vegas, fast, offensive, skill-based hockey can be exciting too (though I also recognize they are among playoff leaders in hits per game, but that is not what makes them fun to watch).

  • freethe flames

    the one thing about Ferland is can play throughout the lineup. He can play on any line and be effective, he can shot the puck, he can be aggressive on the forecheck, he can be physical and he can be defensively responsible. I think Mickey O take on the concussions being the issue is probably a good guess; I doubt he plays if he has concussion like symptoms. More likely some other kind of nagging injury. Depending on who BT adds Ferland could be on any line. We know he can be effective with Johnny & Monny. I suspect he could be effective Tkachuk & Janko. He should be effective with Backs and Frolik as a checking line and heck if we had a forth line of him and Bennett with the right center it could be effective as well. Having more guys who can be effective players throughout the line up would be a good thing.

  • Chucky

    Ferland’s abilities are best suited to an aggressive checking game that applies maximum pressure in the offensive zone. Last year the Flames gave up the offensive zone as soon as they lost possession and retreated to play defense. If Peters intends to play the type of hockey that applies maximum pressure then there is a place for him in the top nine and maybe on the top line.
    There was definitely something wrong with him in the last half of the season and we have every reason to believe that it was injury related. With a new coach and a clean bill of health this should be a good season.