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:

  • MacT: I liked him last year, I was an advocate of giving him an opportunity, especially in our bottom six last year, but he only came up for the one game. It all boils down to your ability to make plays with the puck. When he played with Hall and Eberle in Oklahoma City this year earlier, his production was excellent. It was actually on par with Nuge. I’m not saying that he’s Nuge, but it was on par with Ryan. So I think that we’ll get him to training camp. When we signed him again to a contract I had a conversation with him and told him that he would get a look at training camp. He hasn’t played in an exhibition game or didn’t last year, so we’ll get a look and the rest will be up to him to prove to the coaching staff that he’s got enough game to warrant a bigger look as training camp goes by. I promised him that opportunity and we’re going to give it to him.

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. 


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. 

  • pkam

    Will he be MSL v2? Hard to tell. But what I can say is some Oilers fans here certainly resemble the Flames fans 15 years ago. 5’9, 170 lbs and 1-1-2 in 13 games? Got to be hands of stone and 0 chance of making the NHL.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    So don’t you think some of those 50 contracts could have been better used on an NHL center rather than loading up on goons and depth defencemen?

    • pkam

      I am not a believer of enforcer but yes on depth defencemen. Belov is a great signing, Grebeshkov is debatable.

      We don’t know what the management and coaches think. Perhaps they believe one of our AHL player should be able to handle the 4C role? Perhaps they have tried but price is too high. I still think that 3rd round pick for Smithson is a stupid contract. I’ll rather play one of our AHL player and save that 3rd rounder.

  • I don’t want to stretch this comparison too far, but isn’t Martin St. Louis an undrafted, smallish forward, who had a decent college career, toiled in the minors, and eventually made his way to the NHL? From ’98 to ’02, St. Louis wasn’t much of a player. How many people were predicting him to be a first line player, who’ll put up 1000 pts in his career, Stanley cup winner, Hart Trophy Winner, Art Ross winner, back in 1999? I don’t know if Arcobello will ever become that, butat the end of the day, whatever he chooses do do with his life is up to him, not bloggers on Oilers nation, but if nothing else, there are a couple of non-draft worthy, throw away players in nhl history, and the present day he can look at and think…”that could be me”

  • pkam

    I don’t like Smyth in the top 6 neither, but you have to realize how many time Smyth is the first man back.

    Eakins is using the Smyth experience to cover the defensive weakness of Hall.