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Advanced stats on Micheal Ferland, other possible Penguins trade targets

A closer look at who the Penguins might be targeting come the trade deadline.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

With news today sourcing some actual interest from the Pittsburgh Penguins on potential trade target Micheal Ferland, I reached out to our buddy Sean Tierney to get some data.

I gave Sean a few names, and he gave me this view of goals above replacement. We included Derick Brassard for reference, and to show that sending Brass out and bringing someone else new in would be pretty beneficial.

Gustav Nyquist has been the best of the bunch overall,” Sean noted. “He’s powered good results at even-strength despite playing for a struggling Red Wings team.”

I also like Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle here. If the Pens can wheel and deal and find a way to trade Brassard + picks + prospects in a couple of trades and end up with Coyle and Ferland/Nyquist? That would give the team quite the upgraded look for the playoffs.

Here’s a look at the same chart, but with the Penguins stats on here. As Sean pointed out, Ferland would be right around Patric Hornqvist on this chart right now, towards the top of the heap.

I wanted to learn more about Ferland since he’s been a name frequently in the rumor mill of late and now has a big name in the media in LeBrun specifically talking about Penguins.

“Ferland’s been excellent this year,” Tierney added. “He’s managed 132 shots and avoided the poor shooting luck in Carolina, scoring 13 goals on almost 14 xG. He scores with a variety of shot types from all over the offensive zone and has been pretty consistent generating quality chances throughout the year.”

Usage hasn’’t been all that great for Ferland in Carolina.

“Ferland’s only ninth among CAR forwards in 5v5 playing time,” Tierney explained. “But he is top-five in points rate. He’s a good candidate for an increased role.”

Ferland has only averaged 12:29 per game at ES so far this season with the Hurricanes. That’s right in line with a guy like Dominik Simon (12:28) in Pittsburgh and behind other players in similar roles like Tanner Pearson and Bryan Rust, who average just above 13 ES minutes per game. Phil Kessel gets nearly 15 ES TOI and Jake Guentzel is at 16:20, if you were curious about how the Pens use their wingers.

With all this encouraging reports on Ferland, there is one area statistical red flag that he’s displaying.

“One concern is Ferland’s propensity for taking penalties. He’s managed a distinctly negative penalty differential this season, which might explain Carolina’s reluctance to use him more at even-strength than they have.”

But, to me, this looks manageable. Ferland has only taken eight minor penalties in 40 games this season. Maybe that’s a high rate for his lower minutes, but overall doesn’t jump out like a major concern. Ferland does have three major penalties (all for fighting) that may be propping up this metric.

Then again, perhaps Ferland’s penalty numbers are a bit high - there’s only one Pittsburgh forward has taken more than eight minor penalties this season. As you probably would guess, that would be none other than Evgeni Malkin, with a whopping 18 trips to the sin bin. Oops!

Bottom line is Ferland would be an exciting addition to Pittsburgh if they can get him for the stretch run as a productive, physical winger.

The question of what to do with Brassard and the center position in general looms over the trade deadline in Pittsburgh like a black cloud. But if Jim Rutherford is able to get Ferland without paying a king’s ransom, Pittsburgh should be fortified by his possible addition.