One of the biggest issues for the New Jersey Devils over the past few years is size. The Devils have lacked both size and physicality, each of which are still important aspects to the game. Even though times are a changing in the NHL – speed is now preferred over size – the Devils must still address this problem. An earlier profile of ours took a look at Anders Lee, who fits the mold of a physical scorer perfectly. This profile will investigate another player who fits this mold: Micheal Ferland.
The 6-foot-1, 217-pound Ferland is slated to be an unrestricted free agent after just one year in Carolina. He was able to compile 40 points (17 G, 23 A) last season and 41 points (21 G, 20 A) the season before. At this point in his career, the 40 to 50-point territory is what to expect from Ferland. As mentioned above, he is a physical player as he’s totaled close to 200 hits each year, which always puts him in the top half of the league. This has given him the label as one of the league’s better power forwards.
Related: Free Agent Profile: Joonas Donskoi
Ferland’s underlying numbers are not as good as his fellow free agent forwards, but they are by no means bad. His Corsi For % (CF%) rating of 53.2 percent over the past couple seasons is above league average, and he has a goals above replacement (GAR) of 12.1 over the past couple seasons, placing him ahead of Evander Kane and Viktor Arvidsson. All-in-all, Ferland is pretty solid offensively and great physically. But there is a part of his game that is lacking.
Ferland’s defense is a bit of a struggle. Above is a RAPM chart, which helps evaluate the impact a player has on his team in certain categories. The latter two bars are two defensive indicators – Def_xG and Def_CF – that are a little alarming. This basically means – defensively – Ferland brings his team down a bit.
Given that the number of power forwards is decreasing, the market for Ferland is going to be competitive. The folks over at @EvolvingWild project a four-year deal worth $4,146,272 annually, which seems pretty spot on. A four to five-year deal will take Ferland into his early thirties, which is ideal for both parties. The annual salary will most likely be in the low-to-mid-$4,000,000 range, which is a little high for only a 40-point scorer, but not terrible.
The decision of whether or not to pursue the power forward comes down to if you’re willing to make a trade-off. As documented above, Ferland can struggle defensively. This raises the question: is the scoring touch he brings, along with the physicality, worth the occasional defensive struggles? In the Devils’ case, general manager Ray Shero should think so.
Ferland is a solid forward who brings the ability to play either wing position. He is no Anders Lee, but that just means he will be cheaper than his fellow free agent counterpart. A four-year deal in the high $3,000,000 to low $4,000,000 is something the Devils should pursue. If they feel as if they want to address the lack of physicality their team has via free agency, and they can get him at the price mentioned above, Ferland is the answer.