Yesterday, the Flames placed Matt Stajan on the injury reserve, and called up Markus Granlund to replace him. Today, it's been announced that Mikael Backlund will be out on a week-to-week basis, and Michael Ferland will get his first NHL games in.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Flames?src=hash">#Flames</a> have summoned Michael Ferland from the AHL. Mikael Backlund is on IR - week-to-week due to his abdominal issue.</p>— Randy Sportak (@SUNRandySportak) <a href="https://twitter.com/SUNRandySportak/status/527945893123600386">October 30, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Backlund was held out for much of training camp with an abdominal strain, but was able to start the season on time. It may have just now, after 11 games, caught up with him. Backlund has one goal - an overtime winner - and four points in that time frame.
Backlund's loss is a pretty big blow, and while Granlund replacing Stajan isn't ideal for a team trying to win, losing Backlund is disastrous. The Flames have now lost their best centre and Ferland, as a left winger, won't be able to replace him; we could see Jiri Hudler or Paul Byron sliding into the middle instead.
It's a great opportunity for Ferland, though, who impressed many throughout prospect camp, the Penticton tournament (with a tournie-high four goals), and preseason. Ferland had two goals over four games before he was one of the Flames' final cuts.
He's impressed in Adirondack, leading the team in scoring with four goals and nine points over nine games. Ferland isn't just a big body (6'2", 215 lbs) who can fight - he's a kid with a developing scoring touch, too.
Ferland has had a really bumpy ride to the pros. The Herald seems to have removed the full article a while ago, but basically, he grew up in a poor family with just his mom and a couple of siblings. The family was unable to afford quality hockey camps for him, so he just played outside until his community banded together to give him his shot in the WHL. He took it, soon became a scorer in the league, and was not only drafted in the fifth round, but later generated some Team Canada world juniors buzz. While he didn't make the national team, things seemed hopeful for him in regards to a pro hockey career.
Then he had a disastrous first pro season, overweight and out of shape and unable to stick in the lineup. So he returned to junior, and spent his year getting back on track. He shook off a bull off-ice assault charge, got in shape, and was starting to look like a real player, becoming a point per game guy, when a knee injury prematurely ended his season. He rehabbed, and we all saw how well he came back.
And now he gets his first shot at the NHL. His is an incredible story, and while hopefully the injured Flames aren't on the shelves too long, it'd be really great to see Ferland stick. It's going to be exciting to watch him, and he could be everything the Flames want: a tough guy who can score.
As a side note, there are barely any native players in the NHL, and last season, the Flames iced an entirely white team. Ferland is Cree, and he, alongside Devin Setoguchi, are adding some diversity to Calgary's premiere sports team, which is pretty important.