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.

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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.


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.


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.

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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.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Heck, when Arcobello plays tomorrow he will be realizing a dream 99.9% of people who have played the game can only dream of.

    Good on the kid who will hopefully make the most of his opportunity.

    • Czar

      More like 99.9999%. I look at all the can’t miss kids in minor hockey who end up missing, and realize what a rare combination of skill, determination, and for a lot of players, good timing and timely breaks (pun intended) are required to make the show – and all of us dreamers will be skating in spirit with him.

  • Czar

    Depends a lot on how he is used. Crazy as it sounds perhaps with Hall & Ebs leaving RNH with Yak & Smyth & Gags with Hemsky & Pettrell .My guess though is he gets Hartski & Maggie on the 4th line.

  • MarcusBillius

    Anyone remember Mike Bishai? That’s the last undrafted college guy I remember making the Oilers roster. He made quite an impression in that city that buried two hockey teams.

  • book¡e

    What often gets lost in these types of call-ups is what it means financially for the player. He makes $65,000 a year in the AHL and $640,000 in the NHL. Basically $8000 per game. A 10 game stretch would mean a lot for the guys financial security. Good to see someone who dedicated himself to the game have the opportunity.

  • Truth

    Good for him, he’s going to be pumped!

    I did sit through a few AHL live feeds and he can keep up with the kids at that level, lets see what he can do in the National league.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Makes me wonder about the prospects of a 40 year old, 250lb, flat-footed (so I’m told… I can’t see them anymore) prairie redneck who dreamed of playing with the boys on the bus when he was a kid…

    … where is my equipment, anyway???

  • Wanyes bastard child

    If he finds the same chemistry with Hall and Ebs that he had in OKC his size will become irrelevant. Id move Gagne down with Yakupov and MP. Put RNH with Hemsky and Hartsy. Lander with Smyth and Petrell.

    There is an opportunity here for Arcobello. It may well be a blessing in disguise that Horcoff and Belanger are injured.We need more from RNH,Gagne and Lander on the dot.There will added pressure on those three to step up and improve that part of their game. It has to happen. Sooner rather than later.

    The attitude has been we can rely on Horcoff and Belanger to take the faceoffs. That has to stop. The players on the ice have to be able to do the job adequately. I am not saying that they have to be 55%-60% on the dot. But 33-40% is not good enough.

    My suggestion is MacT out there doing face off drills. MacT has the knowledge and experience to pass on. Use his experience.Get the 4 centerman and Hall and drill them relentlessly.

    Washington tossed another one down the toilet last night. Can you feel the screws tightening in DC? Ovie? Backstrom? Are they even playing? There is going to be a shakeup in DC soon.

    Would it be a reach to suggest the Oilers could be a trading partner? Jay Beagle(57.7% on the dot) and something in the Filip Forsberg kinda category for Hemsky and/or Whitney? Washington needs to kick start that offence in a big way. A top 6 forward and/or expiring contract for a 27 year old center and a A grade prospect. Washington dosen’t need Lou. They need to add a top 6 forward in a bad way. They have plenty of assets. It would make sense for Tambo to feel out McPhee’e willingness for a trade.

    • ubermiguel

      This team needs to get good at faceoffs fast. Horcoff and Belanger are injured, but are there rules against them running a few drills with the centres too?