Mark Arcobello graduated Yale in 2010 and signed at the very bottom of the hockey business–an ECHL contract with no major league affiliation. That’s not exactly the end of the earth for a pro prospect, but you can see it from there. Arcobello’s story–small forward with skill–results in a career ended long before the NHL a large percentage of the time. However, once in a long while a player hangs around long enough, scores enough, impresses enough people, and finds his way.
Last year, Mark Arcobello had a cup of coffee in the NHL. That made him a success in hockey no matter what else happened afterward, but for Arcobello it meant one thing: try harder, do more, impress more. The line between a top flight AHL player and an NHL role player isn’t a huge one, but a player like Arcobello can get buried early and never recover.
Entering this year’s training camp, Arcobello was "one in a crowd" of centermen trying to find an NHL job behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner and Boyd Gordon. Along with Anton Lander, Andrew Miller and Will Acton, Arcobello had some things to recommend him but was far from the favorite for the 4line/extra C job the Oilers had available.
How then did he end up on the 2line opening night? During the summer, GM Craig MacTavish had this to say about the small C:
As it turned out, Sam Gagner’s injury gave two centermen a chance for opening night, and Arcobello (plus Will Acton) beat out Miller (who was injured) and Anton Lander.
Last night, Mark Arcobello played 15 minutes for the Edmonton Oilers, had 4 shots on goal, an assist and went 52.9% on 17 faceoffs. He enjoyed three minutes on the powerplay, 2 takaways and 1 hit. His Corsi? 14-9 +5, the 4th best Corsi/min total on the team.
Just lucky I guess. Again.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Don’t bet against Mark Arcobello. Too small, not enough skill, can’t skate fast, he’s heard it so often he can’t hear you. Mark Arcobello has overcome odds and left players in the dust for several years now at the pro level.
We have to respect that, because history tells us a lot of players of his type never got this close to making it. Can he go beyond this?
Don’t bet against it. He’s just lucky, I guess.