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Vancouver Canucks new signee Micheal Ferland brings more than just toughness

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The 27-year-old signed a four-year, $14 million deal with the Canucks.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Carolina Hurricanes
Apr 4, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes left wing Micheal Ferland (79) and right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) celebrate their win against the New Jersey Devils at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-1.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Long gone are the days of Kevin Bieksa getting agitated with bulldozing rookie Micheal “Ferkland.”

It looks like four years after Ferland bullied the Canucks during their last playoff appearance, he’s set to join the team that he made his NHL mark playing against.

It was announced this that Ferland is set to sign a four-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks, somewhere in the range of $3.5 to $4 million per season.

Ferland is coming off of a career-best 41 point campaign during his one-year stint with the Carolina Hurricanes. Now that he’s supposedly joining the Vancouver Canucks, he looks to be finding himself in a similar situation for the third year in a row, on his third team, no less.

With the Calgary Flames, Ferland enjoyed a breakout season in 2017-18 while playing with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Paired with those two wingers for most of the season, Ferland crested the 20-goal total for the first time in his career. He also averaged 2.25 points-per-60 at even strength with the Flames’ two stars on offence.

With the Carolina Hurricanes, Ferland’s two most common linemates were Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho. With those two, he posted just above 2.4 points-per-60 even strength. He posted similar numbers with Jordan Staal and Justin Williams, but posted points at a replacement-level rate with other linemates such as Jordan Martinook and Lucas Wallmark.

Now with the Canucks, Ferland will likely enter a similar situation on the top line. Many might have penciled in J.T. Miller on the top line with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, but Ferland’s past usage suggest that this is his role for the taking. It’s clear that Jim Benning wanted a skilled, physical winger to line-up with Pettersson and Boeser, both of whom have battled injuries after facing off against the NHL’s best defencemen on a nightly basis.

While he get’s criticized for not producing without star players, there is one stat that paints Ferland as more of a playmaker than most might believe. Over the last two seasons, Ferland’s 0.95 primary assists per-60 minutes ranks 28th in the NHL at even-strength.

Another underrated playmaker who ranks up there? Antoine Roussel, who’s 0.92 primary assists ranks 38th. For the record, Elias Pettersson is 4th in the NHL in that category, trailing only Mitch Marner, Artemi Panarin & Steven Stamkos.

One of Ferland’s other strengths is his ability to shoot the puck, as you saw in the clip above. Over the last three seasons, Ferland has 53 goals and a 13.1 shooting percentage.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames
Nov 10, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel (21) and Calgary Flames left wing Micheal Ferland (79) fight during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toughness Mantra

It’s evident that Ferland brings more than just toughness to the table, but Benning has sent a message to both his team and the league with some of the moves he has made of late.

Signing Antoine Roussel (and to a much lesser extent, Jay Beagle and Tim Schaller), signaled that Benning was desperate for the Canucks to be tougher to play against. While Roussel certainly was a welcome addition, the Canucks were still undersized in the Western Conference.

Now, in in the past three weeks, they’ve added Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn, J.T. Miller and Micheal Ferland.

Will the Canucks be better? That waits to be seen, although they are better on paper than they were last season. One thing does seem certain though. With Ferland, Miller and Roussel possibly manning the left-wing on three lines, the Canucks definitely have more physicality in their lineup.