July 11 2014 09:17PM
As NHL free agency nears the completion of its second week, there's not much left on the shelves. Teams looking for centers and defensemen are especially cornered, because there are very few options. How many centers, who are still available in free agency, are clearly better than Mark Arcobello?
Arcobello (inexplicably) lost playing time to Sam Gagner last season when No. 89 clearly wasn't ready. Arco's fast start gave way to a cool spell, but 41 games is a nice sample size and the diminutive pivot may have earned a full season in 2014-15.
Among the free-agent centers, I'm not sure any of the group showed well enough to be worth big money.
- Andrei Loktionov 5.05
- Derek Roy 4.95
- Mike Ribeiro 3.11
- Mark Arcobello 2.65
Some nice power-play numbers among the free agents, the Oilers can always use more 5x4 options (and penalty-killers too, for that matter). Roy might be a significant help in this area, Loktionov too although he is less proven.
Corsi For % 5x5
- Andrei Loktionov 55.1
- Mike Ribeiro 52.9
- Derek Roy 52.0
- Mark Arcobello 48.1
This is a little misleading, Arco plays for a ghastly possession team whereas the others play on superior teams. Loktionov does show up in good spots, though.
Offensive Zone Start
- Mike Ribeiro 71.7
- Derek Roy 63.1
- Andrei Loktionov 62.9
- Mark Arcobello 47.7
Ribeiro gets the o-zone push, and Roy plus Loktionov, too. Arco gets the toughest number in the group, and probably more along the lines of what the 2line will see in Edmonton.
(Sources: BTN and Extra Skater)
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers haven't had a lot of luck with free agent centers over the last while—they tend to disappear. Maybe it's just the memory of Eric Belanger, but if I'm the Oilers finding a clearly superior option to Mark Arcobello is the best option.
If that player isn't available, play Arco.