Mark Arcobello re-signs with the Oilers


Well, how about that. On Monday, the Oilers passed on the (positive) news that Mark Arcobello, who had been bound for Group VI unrestricted free agency, had re-signed with the team. According to the Oilers’ official press release, Arcobello’s new deal is a one-year extension. 

What wasn’t included in the official release are the details of the contract beyond length. It’s almost certainly a one-way contract – Arcobello’s camp really had no incentive to sign a two-way deal with the Oilers. As for the money, I’d guess something in the six figure range; it isn’t likely that the team would shell out more than that for a player who was consigned to the minor leagues not all that long ago.  

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With the small caveat that we can’t be totally sure until we here specifics of the contract, this comes across as very good news for Edmonton. We speculated just a few weeks ago that Arcobello might prefer to try and find his way with a team less focused on getting bigger, and that the end result might be that he was finished as an Oiler. The team should be happy that this turned out not to be the case, because while Arcobello’s still a bit of a question mark he looked a lot like an effective NHL player earlier this season and there’s no question Edmonton could use more of those.

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There are a few people who might plausibly be impacted by this signing.

Sam Gagner is at the top of the list. Arcobello got a prolonged shot at a skill job at centre thanks to Gagner’s injury early in the year, and he did a better job in a top-six role than Gagner has all season. More than that, Arcobello showed signs of being a positive possession player – something Gagner’s rarely done over his NHL career. Given that, Gagner’s current slot as second line centre is a plausible (if less than ideal) place to pencil in Arcobello for next season, and this signing isn’t going to do anything to cool the idea that Gagner’s going to be moved out of town over the summer. 

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Anton Lander is another player potentially impacted by this signing. Lander’s been auditioning in the Mr. Versatility role that Arcobello eventually slid into prior to his demotion, and the results have been mixed. Some good things have happened with Lander on the ice, and by eye he’s been okay, but the offence stubbornly refuses to come even when he’s playing with scorers. The Oilers’ No. 4 and (assuming they use one) No. 5 centre roles for next season are wide open and even the staunchest supporter of the young Swede would admit he hasn’t forced himself into one of those spots. A pessimist might see Arcobello as the perfect 13th forward because he can do a bit of everything but isn’t proven enough to be put in a top-six job; if that’s the Oilers’ view it represents trouble for Lander.  

Bottom Line

Craig MacTavish2

Last summer, one of the things Craig MacTavish did to try and advance his team was bring in a group of players on cheap short-term deals to see if they had something to offer. Ryan Jones, Denis Grebeshkov and Anton Belov were all given one-year deals to show what they could do; they’ve all been various shades of disappointing but in each case the Oilers’ exposure to risk was limited. Jesse Joensuu, on a cheap two-year contract, falls under the same heading. 

The results haven’t been good, but it’s a process that makes a lot of sense for a team like Edmonton that has so much work to do. There’s some risk involved, but also the possibility that one of these cheap deals turns out a player who can further the cause.

This Arcobello extension falls into the same category, and it seems a reasonable bet for management to make. He isn’t a proven player, but he has overcome a lot already and didn’t look out of place in the Oilers’ top-six early in the year; there’s at least some possibility that he ends up dramatically out-performing the dollars he’s signed for. 

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Or, as I put it when I was speculating that it might make sense for Arcobello to move on:

Good players sometimes get lost in bad teams, and Arcobello shows all the signs. He may or may not turn out, but he will be a nice cheap bet for some smart team out there.


    • Lofty

      He may be small but he’s more physical than just about every player Edmonton has.

      If my memory serves me correctly, Arco was in the top few for hits during his time up with the Oil.

      You don’t need to lay people out to be physical, just seperate the puck from the player. This is a big problem with the teams defense, too much fishing for pucks not enough basic fundamental hockey. Finish your check and take a man.

  • Stompinstoms

    I like Arcobello, I really do. And he certainly has earned this contract. I just hope that we have a plan to get rid of Gagner. Another tiny centre isn’t what this team desperately needs – and they desperately need a lot of things.

    Do you think there’s a GM out there who doesn’t watch the games? At 4.8 a season for Gags, we better hope so.

  • RCN

    Does nothing to help the Oilers long term. Band-aid to keep the fans happy for short term. If Gag’s gets moved this summer, Arcobello will be the goat halfway though the season.

  • Spydyr

    He won more faceoffs than he lost, was a better PPG player while he was here, tried to be as physical as possible, and was able to keep up with the more talented players. Though I still want to see Mac T bring in a legitimate second line C like Legwand or Stasny, Arco is certainly an upgrade over the under-performing Ganger.

    • Lofty

      As much as Arco worked hard, was decent in the faceoffs and was as physical as he could be, he was not a better PPG guy than Gagner.

      Gagner: 61GP 9G 25A 34Pts – 0.57 PPG
      Arcobello: 41GP 4G 14A 18Pts – 0.44 PPG

      I appreciate his work ethic but we still need a better 2C. Most of Arco’s points were in that 10 game point streak to start the season and the other 30 games he fell off the map.

      • 916oiler

        I’m more interested in his excellent (compared to gagner’s and the rest if the team’s) Corsi numbers. Because yes his ppg is lower but that doesn’t take into account the number of games he spent playing between gazdic and jones. How often has gagner been demoted to the 4th line? The oilers need more players that provide puck possession. Arcobello may not be ideal but he’s a good fix from within the system.

        • Sevenseven


          It’s true that Arco spent some time on the 3rd/4th lines and Gagner didn’t but close to half that 30 game dry spell was still spent on top-six minutes.

    • Harry2

      Lets not kid ourselves, Lagwand or Stastny would be #1C on this team. All this talk and action on the bottom 6, I surely hope that Mac makes some noise regarding the top 6 this offseason.

      If the centre depth chart is composed of RNH, Arco, Gordon, Lander, insert rookie here, we are in for a world of hurt again next year.

      • Lofty

        The artist formerly known as harry,
        If they are the four centres next year… I will start cheering for the Flames..That’s how pissed I will be. You are 100% correct on the first line centre. This team needs proven experience and size. Statsny or legwand would be great. Not sure they would want to join this gong show though..

    • Spydyr

      One year at his age is not such a bad thing for him especially if it is a one way deal.He has a chance to play in the NHL next season .Perhaps make a name for himself.How many other teams are weak enough to give him a legitimate NHL shot next year?

      Not many.

        • Spydyr

          Do you really think the team thinks Acton is a better option then Arcobello?

          The only reason Arcobello is still in OKC is to help them make the playoffs. That and the team has to stay in second last if they hope to get Ekblad or Draisaitl even then if the wrong team wins the lottery they might be SOL.

          • Ok fair enough. I didn’t realize the barons were more important to them, and didnt know they were purposely tanking again this year.

            Just thought if this player is in their plans for next year they might want to get him in as many NHL games as they could this year

          • Spydyr

            It looks like the team wants to give the kids in the AHL another taste of playoff experience.We all know that is not happening here.

            Look at the recent player movements the call ups and injuries.If a player gets a hangnail he is done for the season.The team appears to be concerned about draft postilion and have made it very clear they want one of Ekblad or Draisaitl.

            That in itself is another mistake from “The Braintrust” when will they learn to never show your hand.

          • Lofty

            Agree Spyder 17, and add that I see no reason to bring MC up here for the end of the season. It would expose him to a team playing in a funk and greater risk of injury. I hope he plays up here lots next year, but would like to see him arrive with attitude and body both intact.

  • Stompinstoms

    One way for certain. Arcobello deserves at least that regardless of where he plays next season.Cripes if they can pay Grebby and Eager a million bucks to play in OKC then what is that in comparison to what Arcobello is going to get paid on a one way contract.

    The Oilers need a viable second line center option going into the off season.

    Hopefully we’ll sign this guy or were going to try to trade for this guy is not the same as we have this guy in our organization under contract.

    good for MA.

  • Sevenseven

    Arco is a smart, talented forward who plays bigger than he is. IMO a better 4th line center than Smyth. Good signing! Now change the top 6 Mac t bottom 6 is looking pretty good.

  • Spydyr

    i would wager arco is MacT’s back up plan for next years 2line center. This solidifies Gagner leaving. I would hope MacT will be hitting the phones for a legitimate big #2C, but at the same time he shouldn’t be putting all of his eggs in one basket in the event that one doesn’t present itself. good signing because if there is no couturier to be had arcobello is a better option than lander.

    that’s the way i see it..

  • RCN

    It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that he had a chat with MacT about this at the time he was sent down.

    MacT: “Our season’s done, we like your game, we know what you can do but right now you need to be playing and we have to figure out some things with our players up here. Go down to OKC try and get them in the playoffs and we’ll give you a one way that works for both side. I’ll look after your dog for you if you want while you’re down there.”

  • dougtheslug

    JW, I agree with your thoughts on Lander. I have liked what I saw in his audition with skill from a systems and defence standpoint but he’s had terrible puck luck.

    But, do we have to view him as a centre? Perhaps with Jones moving on and the Oil not 100% convinced JJ for the third line, the Oilers could play him on the wing with Hendricks and Gordon?

    Always good to have extra centres around, especially one with a eye to play on the defensive side of the puck.

    • Lofty

      Time is ticking on both Lander and Joensu. To me these guys would be my plan B or C. We need actual NHL players. Was hoping Landers skating would be better than it is.He hasn’t been real bad but just isn’t what I hoped he would become. Joensu’s back seems to be going the way of JFJ. I am hoping MacT fills these spots with proven players.

      • When you send anyone on a 1-way deal down to the AHL, the first $925k is “free” (for this season; next yr I believe its set at $950k). So sending a guy making $1.5M to the minors this yr (Grebeshkov) results in the Oilers being charged with a $575k cap hit. Joensuu would count as $25k this yr ($0 next yr I believe).

  • Lofty

    Sam will move, with Katz footing 1.5-2 mil per. Like numerous others from here, that’s not asset managment in my opinion. However Sam needs a restart, before mct can’t give him away.

  • Lofty

    Arco good utility guy. Needs to improve his finish around the net, Then again which Oiler doesnt.

    PS Arco and Gadzic gone for the season with shoulder injuries/surgery.

  • Lofty

    “Good players sometimes get lost in bad teams, and Arcobello shows all the signs. He may or may not turn out, but he will be a nice cheap bet for some smart team out there.”

    Are you accusing the Oilers of being a smart team?

  • Lofty

    The Arco signing is a good one. He was one of the few players that competed for the oilers this year. Finishes his checks and is good on the dot. Was much better than gagner in the two slot. I already suspect there is very little value if any for gagner. He may end up getting bought out. I hope he is not back next year. This is a situation where there will be addition by subtraction. In my opinion he is not far off where Patrick O’sullivan is just before he was dumped.

  • Lofty

    Mike, you make a good point about gagner’s offense..but watching the oilers trying to get out of their own zone has been very painful. I’d take Arco’s corsi and face % over gagners offense. Most of Gagner’e offence can be replaced on the PP by RNH once the coach figures out to play him like RK did last year.

  • Harry2

    @Mike Wazowski

    It’s no use throwing numbers towards the Mark Arcobello fans. They don’t want to see the numbers that prove that Gagner actually is a better PPG player than he is, they refuse to acknowledge that a 5’8, 166lb guy being ‘physical’ is anything beyond adorable at the NHL level, and that most of the points he did put up were in a very small span of games and then became completely invisible afterwards. He played his way off the team, but don’t them that. Nope, he’s the solution and is the #1 reason why we’re going to make the playoffs next season.

    In fact, if we had more Mark Arcobellos, we could match up very well against Bostom, St. Louis, LA, etc. No, I’m serious! So long as they can all skate well, they could just skate right between everyone’s legs!

    • Lofty

      Lol…That was good. The reality for me is I really do not want Arco to be in the number two slot either. If I was forced to make a decision between the two I would go with the better defensive player first.The fact is we need size for that 2nd centre position because of the division we are in. If we were in the east I might think a little different.

    • Chainsawz

      It’s no use using logic with Arcobello haters either. They get caught up in his size they can’t see the NHL player that he really is.

      He draws more penalties than Gagner, takes less penalties than Gagner, has better zone start/finish than Gagner, and isn’t a liability no matter where you stick him in the line up unlike Gagner.

      No one is saying we need a team full of his exact twins (kind of like how no one likes how our top 6 seems to be mostly the same type of player). Could use a team full with his heart though.

  • Lofty

    The Oilers will not start the season with RNH, Gagner and Arco at C (unless they are dumber than I thought), so Gagner will certainly be bought out – especially now that every team knows this very predicament.

    No one will trade for him with or without the big salary.

    Good riddance Sammy. With your next team, try to focus more on your man and less on twirling your mouth guard.

    • Harry2

      Agreed. It is unfortunate for what happened to Sam. When he first arrived in the league I remember how hard he was working and how impressed I was. I don’t know what happens to players like Sam and P. O’Sullivan. The talent and compete is there, and then, like a light bulb it’s gone. I think in Sam’s case he should never have been put at centre. I give Hall credit for knowing that right away. I also believe the coaching has not helped him either. I am not optimistic for him as a future NHL player.

  • Harry2

    If they cant trade Gagner I would buy him out. And why does everyone assume we need a 2C? We need a 1C!! RHN is being asked to do too much too soon.

    Just realized when gagner was signed. No buyout to be had there

  • Harry2

    They are not going to buy Gagner out, some of you are being ridiculous. There was interest at the deadline, and if the Oilers just want to dump him it would be easy. I think they will trade him in the summer, and its debatable what the return would be, but he is still an asset.

    • Harry2

      Cause it was real easy for Van to dump Luongo hey? And hes a true #1 goalie. Its gonna be hard to find someone to take Gagner and his 4.8mil massive overpayment of a contract

      • 2004Z06

        Actually Vancouver had several offers for Luongo, they just priced him too high. They ended up getting much less in the end than they were offered at the deadline.

    • Harry2

      Yes there was interest. L.A. wanted to dump Clifford on us. A fourth liner like fraser and that was only happening if we took salary back. It seems to me that we are going the same way as hemsky in that MacT will keep him if he can’t get enough for him. To me if you can’t get anything decent in return that should spell out what other teams think of gagner. If other teams don’t see much of a player then what should a 29th place team see in keeping him. He looks lost out there. Hemsky, however is a player. I just don’t see the oilers getting anything back for him.I hope I’m wrong.

      • Spydyr

        I would be happy with a second round pick a mid-line prospect and the 4.8 million in cap space to use in free agency.

        In a perfect world he would be part of a package for a top pairing defencman or a complete centre.

        • RCN

          I Like your optimism. I too would be very happy with that. On Gagner, I was reminded listening to Eakins that a lot of the players do read these blogs. It is important for the players to understand what the hockey world is saying. I am an old dog and have watched many nhl players piss away their careers.(some of them I know)and hope that Sam realizes as I see it his career is getting close to life support.
          MacT mentioned last year with whitney that the players don’t see or understand that their play has deteriorated to the point that the team has to start scratching you because you have become a liability.The oilers have given Sam every opportunity to rebound after an awful injury. I believe this injury has impacted his play but have to admit I really didn’t want them to re sign him. From what I’ve seen he seems like a great guy and I hope Sam sees where he is, and works harder than ever because if he doesn’t his next team will be his last.

      • Spydyr

        We don’t know the exact details for that deal so whats the point in using that as evidence to base your opinion on. Some names were leaked, but it’s just speculation and we don’t know the other moving parts.

        The Edmonton Oilers roster is a mess, and has been out of balance for a long time. Sam Gagner could very well go to another team an play on the top line for another 10 years. I guarantee you that some GM out there will see it this way, and take a flyer on Gagner. These are smart business men, not fickle fans.