The Boston Bruins are reportedly interested in acquiring Micheal Ferland from the Carolina Hurricanes, according to Elliotte Friedman in his latest “31 Thoughts” column.
Wait, a gritty forward who has had some success scoring recently is of interest to the Bruins? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Whether it’s been David Backes, Matt Beleskey, Chris Stewart, Wayne Simmonds or others, the Bruins have long been involved in just about any sort of rumor or report focused around a tough forward regardless of their actual ability to contribute for the team.
Lumping Simmonds in that mix seems unfair as he’s very clearly been a successful player in the NHL and is still producing even at 30 years old. This just illustrates the point that the Bruins are always linked to these forwards each and every season though, regardless of how much sense it makes in the short or long-term.
Of the four players mentioned, two were actually acquired by the Bruins through free agency on deals that have already come back to bite the team well before they were set to expire.
Backes and Beleskey Signings Were Mistakes
To put things simply, Backes’ contract is one of the worst in the NHL and will likely cause the team issues in the near future if they can’t get it off of their books somehow.
These two deals alone should be a red flag for the Bruins (though admittedly for different reasons) as far as Ferland is concerned. Still, for some reason, the team doesn’t seem to be keen on getting out of its own way when it comes to interest in players that fit a more physical brand.
Now in Ferland’s defense, he has scored double-digit goals in each of the last three seasons including 15 in 2016-17, 21 a season ago and 13 goals and 25 points in 38 games already this season.
He isn’t necessarily a flash in the pan scorer who can only produce with one team either as he’s found chemistry and success in both Calgary and Carolina.
Still, if the Bruins are looking to trade a lot to acquire him and use him in their top-six to fill the hole next to Krejci, they’re probably making a mistake.
Ferland’s Cost Will Outweigh His Production
If he were to be traded to Boston, Ferland would ideally join the Bruins as a third-line player who would immediately slot into a spot on one of the team’s two power-play units.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world and the Bruins would undoubtedly be trading for him to use him in a top-six capacity.
While Ferland has proven be can be a good player in the NHL, the market to acquire him is already so large (as Friedman alluded to) that the asking price will almost undoubtedly outweigh the actual production the team would get from him.
Given what the actual cost of acquiring him would be, there’s no plausible way the Bruins could justify using him in a bottom-six role if they do go out and make the deal.
What exactly does Ferland bring to the table outside of power play production, decent scoring and grit?
As far as zone starts go, Ferland starts the majority of his even-strength shifts in the offensive zone. 61.7% of his shifts start in the offensive zone while only 38.3 of his shifts start in the defensive zone.
If Don Sweeney and co. are going to commit assets to a 26-year-old player on an expiring deal, he ideally won’t be one they have to shelter in favorable matchups. That type of usage should be reserved for a younger player who could be in line for a change of scenery; players like Jesse Puljujarvi.
Naturally, Ferland’s scoring starting increasing when he was given more offensive zone starts consistently and those offensive numbers have risen every season of his career.
Yes, Ferland has proven he can score in the NHL. He’s also proven he can be a gritty forward who brings a sort of sandpaper-type feel to a team that is lacking that in general. This doesn’t mean that he’ll be an upgrade over anything the Bruins currently have relative to the cost it would require to acquire him, especially if it means they have to pick and choose when they rely on him.
That doesn’t even include what a potential extension would look like for the Hurricanes’ forward either.
Ferland Looking for Tom Wilson-Type Money
When talking about Ferland and what a potential extension for him may look like, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos mentioned that Ferland could be looking for Tom Wilson-type money.
He would also mention that many teams in the Eastern Conference likely feel that Ferland is exactly the type of player necessary to compete with Washington who proved what they could do with Wilson in a crucial role in their lineup.
“All Wilson’s done between last season and this season is create maybe a mini arms race in terms of teams now sitting there going, ‘the Cup has to come through the East with the Washington Capitals,’ so Ferland, of course, plays a real physical type of role and many teams believe that he could fit the bill in terms of pushing Washington through an Eastern Conference playoff,”
– Nick Kypreos
This can be looked at a few ways.
For starters, the Bruins could acquire Ferland for a deadline run and then look at moving on from him in the offseason. After all, he’s set to be an unrestricted free agent at seasons end and would only cost the Bruins $762,097 for the remainder of the season if acquired today.
With that in mind, an extension wouldn’t matter and an exorbitant six-year, $31-million asking price would be a moot point.
If the Bruins are about to enter an arms race to acquire Ferland from the Hurricanes, though, then doing so for a one-year rental would be just as ill-advised as giving him that type of contract in the first place.
Whether Ferland proves to be worth that type of money in the long-term or not, he’s a player the Bruins should pass on. Let another team spend on him and find out his worth. The Bruins assets and cap space can and should be better used elsewhere.