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Ferland gets closer to return for Canucks in Qualifiers

Forward to play in scrimmage after missing 55 games with recurring concussion symptoms

by Dave McCarthy / Independent Correspondent

Micheal Ferland on Sunday took another step toward being the physical presence that Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green said he can be for them in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

The forward, who missed 55 games this season because of recurring concussion symptoms, said he was "feeling really good" after participating in a morning skate as part of a simulated game day for the Canucks, with a scrimmage scheduled for 10 p.m. ET.

"I'm ready to get a couple of scrimmages going here, get my cardio and game shape up and better," said Ferland, who has not played since Dec. 10.

Ferland said he has benefited from the extended time off after the NHL paused the season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, noting he has not had any setbacks since resuming skating during the pause.

"I needed the rest and to take some time off from trying to get back so quick. It was the best thing for me," Ferland said. "I took a couple of weeks off, and then I didn't have ice at home so all I did was train and work out. Since I started skating, I've been feeling good ever since, I haven't had any problems; I'm just trying to get in game shape now."

Green said he is pleased Ferland can participate in scrimmages but that he will have to earn a spot in the Canucks lineup with his play during the remainder of training camp.

"It's been a long process for him. If he's ready to go, he's another guy we have to take into consideration," Green said. "When we signed Ferland, it's no secret we signed him for these type of games. When things get heated in the playoffs, his physical presence is well known."

The Canucks, who were 36-27-6 (.565 points percentage), enter the Qualifiers as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and will play the No. 10 seed Minnesota Wild (35-27-7, .558) in a best-of-5 series in Edmonton, the hub city for the West. The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery.

Ferland scored five points (one goal, four assists) in 14 games in his first season with the Canucks after signing a four-year contract July 10, 2019. He said he is excited to test himself in a game situation.

"Just the stimulation of seeing a bunch of bodies moving around, going at full speed and getting my heart rate up, that's what I need (tonight)," Ferland said. "I basically need to rewire my vestibular system. I just need to continue to get out there with more bodies and full pace and contact."

Green said he feels the Canucks have 15 forwards capable of being in the lineup for Game 1 against the Wild on Aug. 2.

Loui Eriksson, who scored 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 49 games, is a candidate for one of those 12 spots, according to Green.

"We're using this time as evaluation," Green said. "As far as where everyone fits in, I don't have an answer right now. I know what Loui does well, I know what Ferland can bring to the table. It's going to make our final lineup decision challenging, but if you ask any coach, they'd like to have options, and we do and have some tough decisions to make."

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