When the Edmonton Oilers signed Brian Ferlin, I began to cast about trying to fill in the blanks. Peter Chiarelli signed a plethora of players I consider prospects (under 50 NHL games played, latest Top 20 is here) but at his age (25) I wondered about his back story. As a Boston Bruins draft pick in 2011, I looked for a scouting report around draft day.
- Don Sweeney, Asst GM Bruins (July 9, 2011): “Well, I think there’s a lot of room for growth on Brian [Ferlin]. He’s got tremendous upside athletically. I think he’ll continue to get more and more comfortable on the ice as he plays more and more hockey. It’s like taking the one thing until they converge, so to speak. I think that’s, as he plays more that athleticism will start to show up. He’s got good speed, he’s got good size, he’s got good skills, he’ll understand now in terms of how to utilize those even better as he plays with better players and moves forward. We’re excited. I think he’s a nice project and a nice piece to have to continue to go to work with and then see where he takes it.” Source
- Kirk Luedeke: He’s a big-bodied winger who has some untapped offensive tools (he was Kuraly’s USHL teammate with the Indiana Ice), but needs more time to work that out in the AHL- the B’s can’t really afford to keep him around based on the talent and experience levels of others fighting for the same position on the team. Source
That’s a perfect fit for the Oilers, as the club basically needed to restock up front. Adding Ferlin to names like Ty Rattie and Mitch Callahan (also signed this summer) gives Edmonton some real competition for jobs in Bakersfield. Ferlin’s pro career remains new (as below) while his time to shine is very narrow.
BRIAN FERLIN’S PRO NUMBERS
- AHL: 78gp, 17-17-34 (69pims)
- NHL: 7gp, 0-1-1
BRIAN FERLIN’S INJURIES
- Mark Divver, Providence Journal (April 22, 2017): Ferlin missed all but 23 games in 2015-16 with post-concussion symptoms, then played just two games this season because of a knee injury. His last game was on Dec. 11. Eight weeks after knee surgery on Feb. 24, Ferlin is working out off the ice and is expected to make a complete recovery. It wasn’t just any knee surgery. A piece of cartilage was removed from Ferlin’s knee and replaced with cartilage that was taken from a cadaver. Source
My definition of a prospect is a player who has less than 50 games of NHL experience. Ferlin, at 25, is about the same age as Mark Arcobello when he received his first NHL look with the Oilers. It is a very long shot for Ferlin but Peter Chiarelli must have seen enough in him to warrant a two-way contract ($700,000 NHL, $80,000 AHL) for the coming year. His NHLE’s (2015-16: 23 points) are not overwhelming and his scouting report suggests we are dealing with a bottom six forward.
Peter Chiarelli signed several players who meet my definition of prospect in early July (Ty Rattie, Yohann Auvitu, Mitch Callahan, Keegan Lowe, Grayson Downing, Edward Pasquale) and will be considered for the Winter Top 20. Ferlin will too, although his performance in October and November will be the sum of the evaluation. There’s just not much history to go on.
At Christmastime 2016, the Oilers RW prospect depth chart included Jesse Puljuarvi, Tyler Pitlick (graduated to 50 games) and Greg Chase (here). Now, Puljujarvi has been joined by Kailer Yamamoto, Ty Rattie and Mitch Callahan, not to mention graduates like Anton Slepyshev and Drake Caggiula. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and or Ryan Strome may also be in the picture, at least during 2017-18.
As for Brian Ferlin, I’m not sure we can say he’ll be 100 percent this fall. He is coming from a long way back as a prospect and there’s real urgency. Peter Chiarelli liked him enough to sign him and the organization is going to give him full throttle this coming season in Bakersfield. I’ll be fascinated to see what he brings.