Sixth-round draft picks like Josh Archibald rarely carve themselves out a career in the NHL and most don’t even play a game in the big leagues.
But Archibald took the road less travelled. Drafted out of high school, he spent three years in the Pittsburgh Penguins farm system — the club that took a flyer on the undersized winger that scored 27 goals and 73 points in 25 HS games.
In Pittsburgh, Archibald never really caught on. He had a few stints being called up to the NHL between 2015 and 2017, but never stuck around.
His break, however, came in December 2017 when he was traded to the Arizona Coyotes and Archibald never looked back.
He spent the remaining 39 games on the Coyotes roster scoring 11 points, and returned in 2018-19. He had a very productive year with Arizona scoring 12 goals and 22 points in 68 games there, but at seasons end, the Coyotes parted ways with the UFA.
And there’s where the Edmonton Oilers come into play.
The Oilers signed Archibald to a one-year, $1-million contract and he earned every single penny. Despite a bit of a slow start to the season acclimating to a new team and went the first 19 games without scoring a single point.
That first point, a goal, was scored on December 1st. It took another 19 days for another point to be scored, but then he got real hot. In the 34 games between Dec. 20 and March 11th, the day the season was put on pause, Archibald scored 11 goals and 20 points.
He found success playing alongside Riley Sheahan and Jujhar Khaira as the season progressed and carved out a major role as one of the team’s top penalty killers. His underlying numbers at 5v5 are without a doubt not very good (44.43 CF%, 42.20 xGF%), but he also hold a very low PDO of 96.5 depleted due to a poor on-ice save percentage.
According to hockeyviz.com, at 5v5 Archibald contributed 22 percent below league average offensively, but showed he was a defensive stalwart offering six percent better defence than league average.
Edmonton re-signed Archibald to a two-year, $1.5-million deal which I think is inline with what he would earn on an open market. His offensive production spiked and while I don’t think he would be able to pitch in at a 48 points per 82 game pace, he has shown at times his ability to jump up and down the lineup.
Archibald found himself on a line with Connor McDavid when Zack Kassian was serving suspensions and showed well putting up some points. The two combined on six goals this past season.
I think that it goes without saying that he became a fan favourite in short order. His high-energy, fast-paced physical game is something any Edmonton fan likes.
On Twitter: @zjlaing