The Edmonton Oilers have signed forward Mark Arcobello to a two-year entry-level contract, which is a tremendous accomplishment for the young man from Milford Connecticut. Arcobello played hockey in the U.S. high school system and was named to the 2005 All-State team, which then led him to Yale University where he scored 24 points in 29 games as an 18-year-old freshman. But that performance wasn't enough to get him drafted as an overager - his 5'9'' 165 lb. frame may also have played a role - and Arcobello spent the next three years at Yale earning his degree, and improving as a hockey player. In his last year, Arcobello scored 36 points in 34 games, but it wasn't enough to earn him an entry-level contract with any of the NHL's thirty teams, which is how he ended up with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL.
Arcobello's numbers in Stockton really weren't that impressive for an undersized offense-first player. 20 points in 33 games in the ECHL isn't exactly inspiring, and his plus/minus rating of -2 is the fourth-worst on the club (five players are +10 or better). At that point, Arcobello must have felt like an NHL contract was a long way off, but with injuries mounting in Edmonton, and the Barons getting called to fill in with the big club, Arcobello got the call to Oklahoma City, and he's made the most of his opportunity.
In something of a surprise, Arcobello has actually increased his scoring pace since coming to the AHL with nine goals and seven assists in 21 games. He's taken 61 shots, so while a shooting percentage of 14.8% is high, it's not ridiculous either. His +2 rating also suggests that he's getting his head around the defensive side of the game at the AHL level. His play made enough of an impression on the coaching staff that they named him to the clear-day roster ahead of Philippe Cornet who had been with the team the entire year. Plus, Neal seems to really like him.
If I'm being totally honest, I don't think Arcobello has a very good chance at an NHL career. He's already 22 years old and while he's scored a bit at the AHL level, it would be a stretch to call him an impact player, and of course there are the concerns about size as well. As such, this contract strikes me as a bit of a waste for the Oilers, but at the same time, I can't help but be happy for Arcobello who's worked extremely hard to get to this point. And as much as I would consider myself a doubter, I'll be cheering for him to succeed.