November 9, 2011

Ferlin makes sudden impact for Big Red

By Kirk Luedeke

Don’t tell winger Brian Ferlin that being from Florida means he isn’t a legitimate NHL prospect.

The Boston Bruins’ fourth-rounder from last June’s draft was named ECAC Rookie of the Week after the Cornell freshman scored a pair of goals and added three assists in two games over the weekend.

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Ferlin’s on the cutting edge of the new wave of USA hockey talent from the Sunbelt. At 19, the son of a former collegiate baseball player is showing that he not only has the size and skill to compete for a spot in the NHL, but he appears to have the creativity and hockey sense to hold his own in the big show.

In just his second NCAA contest with the Big Red, Ferlin put up a three-point night on the road against Yale (his first goal coming on an empty-netter). The next night, he lit the lamp against Brown University, making a nice individual play to force a turnover before finding the back of the net with a heavy wrister. He also added a helper in that contest, giving him a total of five points in three games on the season.

A year ago, Ferlin was tearing it up in the USHL with the offensive powerhouse Indiana Ice, who boasted the league’s 1-2-3 scorers. Ferlin’s 25 goals and 73 points in 55 games trailed Blake Coleman (34 goals, 92 points) and Danill Tarasov (37 goals, 75 points) on the overall ledger and helped to convince the Bruins to invest the 121st overall selection on the 6-foot-1, 196-pounder.

“If you watched him really flourish in the USHL last season, the hot start is not surprising,” said one NHL scout recently when asked about Ferlin. “He’s fast, has good puck skills and I think has some underrated hockey sense. Ferlin isn’t the prettiest skater on the ice, but he generates a lot of power and can beat guys with his speed even if it looks a little funky.”

Ferlin impressed at Boston’s development camp in July, then followed up his solid showing in Wilmington, Mass. with an eye-opening performance at Team USA National Junior Evaluation Camp in August. Ferlin was in Lake Placid as an injury replacement, but played so well that he may have secured the inside track on one of the forward spots on Team USA.

As a 1992 birthdate and late-bloomer who wasn’t drafted in 2010, this is Ferlin’s only chance to skate in the World Junior Championship next month and in early January, but if he continues to bring the offense in the ECAC the way he’s done early on, he’ll be a pretty solid bet.

“Ferlin is a power forward,” Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning said moments after the team drafted him last June. “He does the things that we covet. He’s strong along the wall. He’s strong protecting the puck. He takes pucks to the net.”

While Jacksonville isn’t quite as prolific a producer of successful amateur hockey players the way Southern California seems to be these days, if Ferlin is any indication, he won’t be the last NHL prospect to come out of that part of the Sunshine State.