He arrived in Edmonton as the next generation’s saviour, and he left town a disappointment. The Jason Arnott story begins in Edmonton, but the heart of the matter belongs on America’s eastern seaboard and the south–and Jason Arnott hockey story is a ringing success.


Jason Arnott was a star player in junior hockey with the Oshawa Generals. Marshall Johnston, at the time director of player personnel for the New Jersey Devils, said "it looks like a deep draft, and if you’re looking for players with speed or size, finesse or strength, there seems to be something for everybody."

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The Oilers grabbed Arnott 7th overall, and he was (along with Doug Weight, Steven Rice, others) instantly adopted as ‘the future.’ And why not? He scored in his first game, scored 33 as a rookie, and did all the things we normally associate with a developing impact player.


Arnott’s rookie season was a dream, tremendous skill married to impressive size and an ability to make things happen. As a fan, there is nothing like a rookie who scores 30+ goals to ignite the imagination–Arnott’s rookie season remains one of the greatest (forward edition) in team history:

  1. Jari Kurri (80-81) 75gp, 32-43-75
  2. Jason Arnott (93-94) 78gp, 33-35-68
  3. Dave Lumley (79-80) 80gp, 20-38-58
  4. Glenn Anderson (80-81) 58gp, 30-23-53
  5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11-12) 62gp, 18-34-52
  6. Sam Gagner (07-08) 79gp, 13-36-49
  7. Andrew Cogliano (07-08) 82gp, 18-27-45
  8. Jordan Eberle (10-11) 69gp, 18-25-43
  9. Taylor Hall (10-11) 65gp, 22-20-42
  10. Raimo Summanen (85-86) 73gp, 19-18-37 

For Glen Sather and the Oilers, Arnott was a perfect fit: skilled with size, and he could handle himself:

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Arnott scored well as a young NHL player, but did not go ‘super nova’ and did not become the centerpiece of the organization (Doug Weight was the team’s young leader by the mid 1990’s). Added to that were injuries, inconsistent play and some very, very bad publicity.

There were several events–the Corson assist fiasco, the "I just wasn’t into it" gaffe and  the circumstances surrounding George Burnett’s dismissal (and Ron Low’s elevation) soured the organization on the young player. The biggest item might have been choice of mentor.

At some point, Glen Sather either decided to get the kid out of town to save him or felt he wasn’t going to deliver on the early promise, and he sent him away.


  • Stanley Cup (2000, New Jersey)
  • Stanley Cup winning goal (video above)
  • NHL All-Rookie Team (1993-94)


On January 24, 1998 the Edmonton Oilers sent Jason Arnott to the New Jersey Devils for Billy Guerin and Valeri Zelepukin. He would win his Stanley there.


Jason Arnott as a prospect had it all: big, tough center with exceptional skills and a scorer’s touch. His only real sin was arriving in Edmonton during a time when the organization lacked veteran leadership, a strength just a few months before his arrival.

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Arnott was young, immature and in Edmonton he paid in full.

After his Edmonton experience, Arnott settled in to a career as a 2-way center with a nice range of skills. His rookie season was perhaps his best in terms of boxcars (owing to an outstanding shooting percentage), but the mature Arnott was a load and a major reason for his team’s success in New Jersey, Dallas and Nashville.

For Edmonton fans, Jason Arnott was an opportunity missed, and a cautionary tale for the organization.

  • Spydyr

    Great read…….I almost forgot how dominant he was. Exactly the kind of player we need now.

    Maybe in this years draft there is one we can get our hands on………I hope that deals are made ( moving up in the draft) keeping a very watchful eye on guys named Barkov.

  • John Chambers

    That McCurdy article is a gem. Love these write-up’s LT.

    Strange circumstances surrounding the man. was my favorite player as a kid, and I remember being happy to see him go.

  • Eulers

    Off topic—why in God’s name did we pass on Jussi Jokinen? All anyone could ask from a number 4 C and I’d say, if the position isn’t already open, it’s past time for the audition! Looks like management is seeing draft picks again…
    Kudos to Smyth for doing all that was asked of him though much of it should not have been.

    • justDOit

      I guess we will never know for sure but it may have something to do with his $3mil a year for this year and next, did he not have hip surgery in the off season as well? I think if they could find a home for Belanger or buy him out at the end of the year we will have a different looking 4th line next year. I hope Lander can make it for our 3rd/4th line center some time in the not to distant future.

      • justDOit

        And the contract list is at 49, meaning that to pick up JJ, the Oilers would not be able to make a pitch for DeKeyser.

        It’s still thought by some hockey people (Lebrun), that Jokenin could be moved via trade. If Carolina can take back a player, or hold some of JJ’s salary next season, he’ll become more attractive.

        All 29 teams passed on him.

  • Spydyr

    I remember seeing him sitting at the bar at Cowboys in the west end back in the day. He was surrounded by 3 hot chicks and was getting VIP service from the bartenders and waitresses…and he still had that trademark scowl on his face! Haha

  • justDOit

    Lets remember these warm fuzzies next time we squash some idiot for crticising MPS for kicks, he is the first power forward we have homegrown here in decades and is already taking games over like he did last night, thinking of Arnott definately make you realise the impact a powerforward has on a teams system results.

    Give me Ethan Moreau,Jason Arnott,MPS,and I will show you a power forward line with size speed skill and toughness that will anchor a Stanley cup team. Wow that would be a hard line to handle in any era.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Arnie was a huge Delta Bravo. I used to live in the same apt bldg as him (and other Oilers too), and I remember getting home from a long double shift, looking to spend some time in the hot tub. I get down there, there’s Arnie with 3 “ladies” in the tub, bottles of Cristal all around the deck. I tried to go soak, and he told me to get lost. I didn’t care about his “party”, I just wanted to soothe my sore muscles. As I left I called out, Have a good night Jason, then under my breath said, you a$$hole.

  • Czar

    Always hoped that Arnott would make a return to the Oilers..was always a favorite of mine when he played for the oilers, cheered for the Devils just because of him being on that team and couldn’t be happier for him when he won the cup.

    Is he now retired? Still injured? Why don’t oilers bring him back to center the 3rd/4th line?

    He’s got good leadership, good playmaking, and a cannon of a shot, at over 230 lbs he’s a mammoth in front of the net as well..may not be fast anymore but can’t be slower than some of the other veterans on this team.

    • DonEnrico

      ^^ this

      I still have a couple of rookie cards of him, and still hope that I can sell them and then retire…

      I actually started follow Oilers the year before his rookieseason, and had to explain to more than one friend why I started to cheer for a team without a single swede om the roster.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    I loved reading the article on Corson. Sounds like the worst teammate ever.

    I am glad that we have better veterans in the room right now than we did when Arnott was breaking in. Say what you want about guys like Horcoff or Smyth but they are pros and have seen a lot in their days in the NHL. The high draft picks usually have the skill to succeed but whether or not they have success is all between their ears.