Ferland could be dealt at WHL trade deadline
Flames prospect’s return to Brandon from the pro ranks, gives struggling Wheat Kings an extra overager
With one too many 20 year olds on their roster heading into the Western Hockey League trade deadline on Jan. 10, the Calgary Flames prospect is well aware that someone will have to go.
“I talked to (Wheat Kings’ general manager) Kelly (McCrimmon) about the trade deadline here,” Ferland said on Wednesday prior to the team’s game against the Calgary Hitmen. “I’m not going to be surprised if I get moved here and if I do, it’ll be a new chapter in my career and I’ll move forward.”
Ferland, who took a turn sitting in the press box on Wednesday, was given the OK from the Flames to return his junior club last week after starting the year with the Flames’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat.
But with Wheat Kings’ other 1992-born players Nick Buonassisi, Ryley Miller, and Tyler Yaworski, Ferland’s return added another overage to the mix.
Only three 20-year-old players are allowed per roster following the WHL overage deadline in the fall but after a player is reassigned from pro, a WHL club has 14 days to make a decision.
“That’s junior hockey,” said Brandon head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk. “You wish you could have all four but it’ll sort itself out.
“And we have make the right decision for the organization. Time will tell.”
It’s been year of new experiences for Ferland who went through some growing pains in his first season as a professional. He saw limited ice time with Troy Ward’s Heat, playing seven games with no points and 10 penalty minutes. In December, he was demoted to the Utah Grizzlies of the East Coast Hockey League where he collected one assist and five penalty minutes during a three-game stint for conditioning purposes.
He started skating with the Wheat Kings during the Christmas break and awaited permission from the Flames to return to the WHL. And there’s no question Ferland, a six-foot-two, 208 power forward, would be an asset to any club taking a legitimate shot at a WHL championship and Memorial Cup run.
Last season, he nearly cracked the 100-point mark with 47 goals and 49 assists in 68 games.
“I talked to my agent and the GM and figured the best thing was for me to come back for another year in junior,” said Ferland, who has played three games, recording a goal on Sunday in Red Deer. “I didn’t feel like I was playing the minutes I needed to be playing and it was only going to get harder after Christmas to crack (Abbotsford’s) lineup. So I thought this was the best thing for me.
“I’m not mad that I’m down here, I know this is the best thing for my career and Calgary supported it.”
While the Flames have openly expressed their commitment to Ferland’s development, Gylywoychuk said he’s been pleased with Ferland’s attitude since his return to the Wheat Kings.
“You can tell Mike is a year older,” he said. “He’s experienced what it’s like to be a pro hockey player and you can tell what he’s gained from the experience.
“He’s come back with a good head on his shoulders. The unique thing about Mike now is he’s all of a sudden an older guy on our team. We’ve got some young forwards and he’s been excellent with them. He’s taken some of the younger guys and been really good with them and led by example.”
The return from professional to junior is never an easy step, but Gylywoychuk said Ferland has taken it as a learning experience.
“It’s a lesson,” he said. “Mike is learning what it’s like to go from junior to pro and he wants to be there. He knows what he has to do day in and day out to be a hockey player and you can see that he does — he carries himself differently.
“I’m sure it was hard for Mike,” he continued. “I knew at the end of the summer, that was his ultimate goal — to play pro. I think it was a tough decision for him when he had to face it. He’s moved on and ready for the challenge to get back there when the opportunity arises.”
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