February 05 2013 06:10PM
Mark Arcobello represents that rarest of all things--an undrafted Edmonton Oiler college free agent signing who makes it to the NHL. These men are more rare than the Vancouver Island Marmot (there are fewer than 75 of those), but Arcobello's recall is a wonderful combination of desire, hard work, endurance and never losing hope.
Justin Schultz is the absolute highlight for the Oilers when it comes to college free agent signings. The kid is a home run addition and each game that passes impresses more and more. Edmonton fans are thrilled with their new defensemen, and perhaps the Oilers will find more gems via the college free agent route.
Not by signing drafted players like Schultz--this was a very special case of a gifted young man who slipped through the cracks--but rather by signing college free agents who were never drafted. Like Arcobello. Recent Oiler signings that fit that bill include Taylor Fedun, Tanner House, Hunter Tremblay and Bryan Lerg.
Arcobello was not drafted after a four-year career at Yale and turned pro by signing with the Stockton Thunder of the Double-A ECHL in 2010 summer. Arcobello's play impressed Edmonton scouts — he had three different stints in 10-11 with the Barons. He finished with 22 points in 26 games with Oklahoma City. In between promotions from Stockton to Oklahoma City, Arcobello was named Most Valuable Player at the ECHL All-Star Game.
For 2011-12, Arcobello established himself as a quality EV scorer in the AHL--not an easy thing to do as the graph in this article shows us. In 162 AHL games--including playoffs--Arcobello has scored 119 points. That's about 60 points for a full season, which would get him into the 20 scoring forwards in most AHL seasons.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH HIM?
The reason Arcobello wasn't drafted is the reason he's in the AHL--he's a small forward. Edmonton already has so many, finding room for this fellow on the roster would mean sending out a blue chipper. However, the absence of alternatives clears the mind, and Arcobello's callup came on a day when there were very few good options.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Likely not much. The way these things usually go is this: cup of coffee, nice words from the coach and a year later you see the guy at Christmas playing for Davos in the Spengler.
However, the world owes it to each man the right to compose his own story. Mark Arcobello has been too small his whole life, and look where that got him.
I've learned never to bet against guys like this. I just cheer like hell.