Mark Arcobello re-signs with the Oilers

Jonathan Willis
March 31 2014 03:00PM

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Well, how about that. On Monday, the Oilers passed on the (positive) news that Mark Arcobello, who had been bound for Group VI unrestricted free agency, had re-signed with the team. According to the Oilers' official press release, Arcobello's new deal is a one-year extension. 

What wasn't included in the official release are the details of the contract beyond length. It's almost certainly a one-way contract - Arcobello's camp really had no incentive to sign a two-way deal with the Oilers. As for the money, I'd guess something in the six figure range; it isn't likely that the team would shell out more than that for a player who was consigned to the minor leagues not all that long ago.  

With the small caveat that we can't be totally sure until we here specifics of the contract, this comes across as very good news for Edmonton. We speculated just a few weeks ago that Arcobello might prefer to try and find his way with a team less focused on getting bigger, and that the end result might be that he was finished as an Oiler. The team should be happy that this turned out not to be the case, because while Arcobello's still a bit of a question mark he looked a lot like an effective NHL player earlier this season and there's no question Edmonton could use more of those.

Repercussions

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There are a few people who might plausibly be impacted by this signing.

Sam Gagner is at the top of the list. Arcobello got a prolonged shot at a skill job at centre thanks to Gagner's injury early in the year, and he did a better job in a top-six role than Gagner has all season. More than that, Arcobello showed signs of being a positive possession player - something Gagner's rarely done over his NHL career. Given that, Gagner's current slot as second line centre is a plausible (if less than ideal) place to pencil in Arcobello for next season, and this signing isn't going to do anything to cool the idea that Gagner's going to be moved out of town over the summer. 

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Anton Lander is another player potentially impacted by this signing. Lander's been auditioning in the Mr. Versatility role that Arcobello eventually slid into prior to his demotion, and the results have been mixed. Some good things have happened with Lander on the ice, and by eye he's been okay, but the offence stubbornly refuses to come even when he's playing with scorers. The Oilers' No. 4 and (assuming they use one) No. 5 centre roles for next season are wide open and even the staunchest supporter of the young Swede would admit he hasn't forced himself into one of those spots. A pessimist might see Arcobello as the perfect 13th forward because he can do a bit of everything but isn't proven enough to be put in a top-six job; if that's the Oilers' view it represents trouble for Lander.  

Bottom Line

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Last summer, one of the things Craig MacTavish did to try and advance his team was bring in a group of players on cheap short-term deals to see if they had something to offer. Ryan Jones, Denis Grebeshkov and Anton Belov were all given one-year deals to show what they could do; they've all been various shades of disappointing but in each case the Oilers' exposure to risk was limited. Jesse Joensuu, on a cheap two-year contract, falls under the same heading. 

The results haven't been good, but it's a process that makes a lot of sense for a team like Edmonton that has so much work to do. There's some risk involved, but also the possibility that one of these cheap deals turns out a player who can further the cause.

This Arcobello extension falls into the same category, and it seems a reasonable bet for management to make. He isn't a proven player, but he has overcome a lot already and didn't look out of place in the Oilers' top-six early in the year; there's at least some possibility that he ends up dramatically out-performing the dollars he's signed for. 

Or, as I put it when I was speculating that it might make sense for Arcobello to move on:

Good players sometimes get lost in bad teams, and Arcobello shows all the signs. He may or may not turn out, but he will be a nice cheap bet for some smart team out there.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Spydyr
March 31 2014, 07:14PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Most Oilersnation Fans: FIRE LOWE FIRE MACTAVISH FIRE EAKINS

Also "Hey, they signed another sort of okay NHL player. Great move!"

Riiiiiiiiight.

Just Lowe.The new guy would clean house.

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#52 blainer
March 31 2014, 07:19PM
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Spydyr wrote:

I would be happy with a second round pick a mid-line prospect and the 4.8 million in cap space to use in free agency.

In a perfect world he would be part of a package for a top pairing defencman or a complete centre.

I Like your optimism. I too would be very happy with that. On Gagner, I was reminded listening to Eakins that a lot of the players do read these blogs. It is important for the players to understand what the hockey world is saying. I am an old dog and have watched many nhl players piss away their careers.(some of them I know)and hope that Sam realizes as I see it his career is getting close to life support. MacT mentioned last year with whitney that the players don't see or understand that their play has deteriorated to the point that the team has to start scratching you because you have become a liability.The oilers have given Sam every opportunity to rebound after an awful injury. I believe this injury has impacted his play but have to admit I really didn't want them to re sign him. From what I've seen he seems like a great guy and I hope Sam sees where he is, and works harder than ever because if he doesn't his next team will be his last.

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#53 2004Z06
March 31 2014, 07:22PM
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The artist formerly known as Harry wrote:

Cause it was real easy for Van to dump Luongo hey? And hes a true #1 goalie. Its gonna be hard to find someone to take Gagner and his 4.8mil massive overpayment of a contract

Actually Vancouver had several offers for Luongo, they just priced him too high. They ended up getting much less in the end than they were offered at the deadline.

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#54 Chainsawz
March 31 2014, 08:11PM
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Naky wrote:

@Mike Wazowski

It's no use throwing numbers towards the Mark Arcobello fans. They don't want to see the numbers that prove that Gagner actually is a better PPG player than he is, they refuse to acknowledge that a 5'8, 166lb guy being 'physical' is anything beyond adorable at the NHL level, and that most of the points he did put up were in a very small span of games and then became completely invisible afterwards. He played his way off the team, but don't them that. Nope, he's the solution and is the #1 reason why we're going to make the playoffs next season.

In fact, if we had more Mark Arcobellos, we could match up very well against Bostom, St. Louis, LA, etc. No, I'm serious! So long as they can all skate well, they could just skate right between everyone's legs!

It's no use using logic with Arcobello haters either. They get caught up in his size they can't see the NHL player that he really is.

He draws more penalties than Gagner, takes less penalties than Gagner, has better zone start/finish than Gagner, and isn't a liability no matter where you stick him in the line up unlike Gagner.

No one is saying we need a team full of his exact twins (kind of like how no one likes how our top 6 seems to be mostly the same type of player). Could use a team full with his heart though.

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#55 keith
March 31 2014, 08:36PM
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Oilers don't even know an NHL player when they play for them.

Oilers laughing stock of the league.

Go Hemsky

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#56 Jeffff
March 31 2014, 09:03PM
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I remember trading Gagner for Brandon Sutter. I got torched here

Bet you would do it now.

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#57 Naky
March 31 2014, 10:16PM
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Guys, guys, seriously. I'm sorry. I was wrong. We need Arcobello on the team. With him on the team, we win more games and we're a stronger team for it. Just think, if Mark Arcobello was on this team at the beginning of the year, we'd be in the playoff hunt right now.

Wait, wasn't he with the team for the first half of the season? Huh, I wonder how that went. Well, at least he won some faceoffs and bounced off some guys to show that he had heart, eh. Counts for something with some people, even if it meant absolutely nothing in the standings. I suppose there really are some who like to draft in the top 5 year after year, who knew?

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#58 Dog Train
March 31 2014, 10:21PM
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Having Arcobello on a one-year deal gives us options. He can play up and down in the lineup and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He's far from the answer but having him around gives us some depth as we inevitably move guys out of town.

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#59 Casey
March 31 2014, 11:35PM
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Soo what Arco is 5.9 and 165 ibs? Sure size matters but it depends on how you use it. Jordin Tootoo is 5.9 and 194 ibs yet he plays like he is 6.5 220 ibs. A guy who finishes checks,can win faceoffs, play defense, and can get points. Sounds like something we have been trying to pursue

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#60 So-patient
March 31 2014, 11:54PM
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Mike Wazowski wrote:

As much as Arco worked hard, was decent in the faceoffs and was as physical as he could be, he was not a better PPG guy than Gagner.

Gagner: 61GP 9G 25A 34Pts - 0.57 PPG Arcobello: 41GP 4G 14A 18Pts - 0.44 PPG

I appreciate his work ethic but we still need a better 2C. Most of Arco's points were in that 10 game point streak to start the season and the other 30 games he fell off the map.

I'm more interested in his excellent (compared to gagner's and the rest if the team's) Corsi numbers. Because yes his ppg is lower but that doesn't take into account the number of games he spent playing between gazdic and jones. How often has gagner been demoted to the 4th line? The oilers need more players that provide puck possession. Arcobello may not be ideal but he's a good fix from within the system.

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#61 Bucknuck
April 01 2014, 12:49AM
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I was SO HAPPY to hear this. I assume they will trade Gagner and bring in another 2line C... but someone is going to get hurt, and Arco is a good centre.

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#62 Wintoon
April 01 2014, 08:15AM
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The key with this contract is that MacT has given himself some options at the centre position going forward. Arcobello is unlikely to slot into the 2C role except in emergencies. More likely that he will fill a bottom 6 role.

The fact remains however that the Oilers need a 1C or 2C to match up with RNH. I sincerely hope that MacT is able to draft Reinhart, Draisaitl or Bennett to accomplish this. We need significant skill and some size down the middle.

As for 1st pairing D Men, this is something that will have to be filled via trade or UFAs. While it would be nice to have an overwhelming stud D Man, what you really need is a set of six/seven competent D men playing at a level that is within their respective abilities. The problem we have had this year is that all our D men have been forced to line up at positions well above their level of capability. I would expect that Mac T realizes this and will take steps to try to correct it.

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#63 Bubba
April 01 2014, 09:21AM
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Somebody forgot to tell Sporkabella he's small. He plays harder than some of our top 6 for sure and likes 'the other kids'...... I think we got a bargain in him...

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#64 RossCreekNation
April 01 2014, 09:53AM
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michael wrote:

Explain how it would not count against the cap? I am not certain that it wouldn't.

When you send anyone on a 1-way deal down to the AHL, the first $925k is "free" (for this season; next yr I believe its set at $950k). So sending a guy making $1.5M to the minors this yr (Grebeshkov) results in the Oilers being charged with a $575k cap hit. Joensuu would count as $25k this yr ($0 next yr I believe).

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#65 Mike Wazowski
April 01 2014, 10:53AM
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@So-patient

@So-patient

It's true that Arco spent some time on the 3rd/4th lines and Gagner didn't but close to half that 30 game dry spell was still spent on top-six minutes.

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#66 Al Low
April 01 2014, 03:44PM
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The offseason, as usual, looks like it will be so much more interesting than the actual season. At the very least, the top 6 is finally going to be broken up. As atrocious as this season has been, I look forward to seeing what MacT comes up with next year.

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