The third and final installment in the blog series focused around Auston Matthews’ linemates finishes with a splash in the free agent market. Here’s why Michael Ferland makes sense.
Two of the three parts of this line are already on the Leafs and are already signed to massive deals. The only real spending on forwards the Leafs have to do this offseason is getting Auston Matthews a left winger who can bring out the best in his game.
The answer is there and it’s prized free agent forward Michael Ferland. The Carolina Hurricanes decided to gamble on the pending free agent and not trade him away and use him as an “own rental”. With their postseason now over, the Hurricanes are in the same boat as everyone else and will have to pitch to lockdown his services.
Why Ferland makes sense for Toronto is the physical aspect he brings, while not compromising on offensive output. He’s a role-filler who knows how to play to his skills and will get into the ugly areas to create space for his linemates. A godsend for Matthews.
Last season he put up 40 points with 17 goals and 23 assists. This point total was one off his previous season and career high with the Calgary Flames. His postseason production nose-dived, however, with just one point in seven games played. This could dash his value enough for the Leafs to take a punt at him.
Coming off of a modest, but well earned $1.75m contract, Ferland is due for an upgrade. If the Leafs could offer him term at a solid rate, say 4-years at $3m, the length could outweigh dollar value up front. Also, the other LW free agents could push Ferland down the list including Panarin, Skinner, and Dzingel.
Alongside two lethal shooters like Matthews and Nylander, Ferland’s net-front presence would offer something that neither Johnsson nor Kapanen could. Screening, clearing shooting lanes, and offering a backdoor option for both players passing abilities are all aspects of his game.
It’ll come down to two things: how much the Leafs think Ferland is worth, and if Dubas would rather give the opportunity to an AHL or international free agent instead. What Ferland offers over each of those options is proven NHL experience; the bright, big league lights won’t cause him to be star struck.
I hope to see some serious movement in the free agent market and trade market by Dubas and Co. this summer. Ferland would be a good start.