People fall into two camps about Mark Arcobello.
They either love him for being an underrated possession driver who takes a ton of shots (and therefore creates scoring chances), or they hate him for being very small and kind of predictable on the ice. Some people think he’s a strong middle six forward, others think he’ll be lucky to earn a roster spot out of training camp for the rebuilding Leafs.
Here’s your opportunity to decide where you fall on the Arcobeliever Scale.
Mark Arcobello is a former NCAA standout, who earned himself an ECHL contract straight out of a four year career with Yale University – then worked his way up to the big leagues.
Back when Arcobello was still a pending RFA with the Arizona Coyotes, I talked with Shawn Hutcheon of the U16 Jr. Rangers. When I asked for his quick analysis of Arcobello’s playing style back at Yale, Hutcheon pointed out two big things about the undersized centre’s game – good on-ice vision and hockey IQ. He read plays well, and was subsequently able to react to them in a more beneficial manner than someone twice his size (but not nearly as good at thinking the game).
Sure enough, the native of Milford, Connecticut was able to rise up the ranks of the pro hockey system pretty quickly. In his first year within the Oilers organization, he only spent half the year with the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder before heading to the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. From there, he would spent another two years in the AHL, work his way up to play a split season in 2013-2014 with the Edmonton Oilers, and finally earn himself a regular roster spot by the start of the 2014-2015 campaign.
From there, though, things got a little weird.
The Oilers were godawful to start off last season (and, let’s be honest, not much improved for the hapless Pacific Division club by spring) so then-GM Craig MacTavish made a swap with the Nashville Predators to send Arcobello to Tennessee for Derek Roy. He was then waived to make room for returning injured players to the roster, was picked up by the Penguins, and then waived again – where he was picked up by the Arizona Coyotes to finish out the year.
Getting waived more than once in a season isn’t rare, but scoring on four separate teams in a single season is – Arcobello earned the distinction of only the second player in NHL history to do that when he scored against the San Jose Sharks on his opening shift in Arizona. He’d also rack up 17 goals over the four different clubs, then go on to score for Team USA at the World Championships en route to a bronze medal. Putting aside the whole ‘moving three times in less than two months’ thing, the undrafted centre had a pretty decent year.
The Coyotes are (like the Leafs) in a rebuild mode, though. The club wanted to make room for some younger players on the roster, so Arcobello failed to receive a qualifying offer. He’s now here in Toronto on a one year, $1.1M deal.
There’s a lot to like about Arcobello’s stats – despite taking kind of a long route to the NHL, he’s never really underperformed at any level of competition. He scored .89 PPG in the NCAA, .61 PPG in the ECHL, .86 PPG in the AHL, and offers .41 PPG in the NHL over 119 games. It’s possible, at 27, that he’s still going to be able to maintain his production levels – just don’t necessarily expect them to go up by much.
His possession figures over the last three years look all right, too:
Then, just for fun, here’s a look at him on the Glass to Crosby scale:
Obviously, he isn’t Sidney Crosby. He does, however, look a bit nicer than… well, one of Vancouver’s off-season centre pickups:
What to Expect in 2015-2016
It depends on where Arcobello is placed in the lineup, but expect scoring at the very least. One thing that the Leafs lacked in 2014-2015 was a guy who was always willing to try and outshoot his opponents with near-reckless abandon, but that’s one thing that Arcobello is good at; he’ll fire at the net until he finds the back of it, and that’s a good thing.
Likely, he’ll make an excellent third line centre.
His stats overall suggest that, from a sustainability standpoint, he’s somewhere in the 10-20 goal range with decent possession numbers and a well thought-out game. You can feel safe leaving your rookies on a line with him (as Arizona did last year with newcomer Tobias Rieder, and met with success doing so) but you can also feel confident that he’ll play well with pretty much whomever needs him. He was once Evgeni Malkin’s wing – they scored – and played in between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle in his first-ever NHL game.
He also scored on four different teams in a single season; if there’s anyone who can kind of be described as the poster child for flexibility, it’s Mark Arcobello.
Of course, there’s always the risk of regression. With something to prove, Arcobello was excellent – but he’s also a bit predictable sometimes, and extremely tiny. It’s easy to wonder if it’s only a matter of time before someone giant like Cody Franson mows him down or he stops taking shots every five seconds of his shifts; it would be nice to automatically sing his praises, but it’s smart to be cautious about new players.
Overall, though, expect this to be a bright spot on the season. He’s a ton of fun to watch, and there’s the chance for some fun goals, too.
- Second NHL player ever to score on 4 different teams in 1 season
- Member of 2015 Bronze Medal USA World Championship Team
- Tiniest player to ever even, and his teammates know it
— Matt Hendricks (@MattHendy26) May 20, 2015