Ranking the players who land near the bottom of our Top 25 Under 25 is never an easy task. All of them have a problem (or two) in their games that make them a long shot to ever play at the NHL level. And making things worse we haven't seen many of them play anywhere other than training camp against similarly unattractive prospects, or maybe a game or two on TV. With that type of viewing it's hard to get a feel for the player. A lot of the ranking comes down to numbers and scouting reports because it's all we have. That's not the case with Mark Arcobello; no, the man we ranked at 22nd has a history in NHL.
Okay, an NHL history might have been over stating it just a touch. He's played in the NHL. One game. 18 minutes and 15 seconds. But for a player listed at 5'9" and 165lbs, who was undrafted out of Yale University, that's 18 minutes and 15 seconds more than most people thought he'd ever play in the NHL. And if he never returns he'll become the sixth player in NHL history to play just one game in the league, playing that game as a member of the Oilers which is more than I will ever do. But landing at number 22 in our rankings, and with the uncertainty down the middle for the Oilers to start the season, there is chance that we haven't seen the last of Arcobello just yet.
Arcobello led the Barons in scoring last season, and in my viewings of him I thought he had a pretty well rounded offensive game; his skating, passing, and shot all looked quite strong. It's this offence that makes him so valuable to the Barons and an emergency call up option for the Oilers. Arcobello looked very much out of place in his one NHL game, but his being dropped into the deep end on the Oilers' top line between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle probably didn't help very much. An extended audition in a more appropriate role would probably tell us a lot more about him as an NHL player.
It's clear he has some offensive upside to his game, what isn't clear is if he can handle a more defensive role at the NHL level. Despite one game of evidence to the contrary, Arcobello is not a top line forward, he's a bottom six guy. He can take a shot and make a pass, that much we know. If he can hold his own defensively and kill a penalty or two, then we might just have a useful bottom six NHL player. He would be breaking the mould of the bottom six player just a bit, but useful comes in all shapes and sizes.
The problem for Arcobello will finding the time to develop those skills when he is constantly being challenged for ice time by the next wave of Oilers prospects. Arcobello - who will turn 25 before the start of the season - managed to stay ahead of that next wave last season and was rewarded with a new contract last month so the team certainly sees value in him. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missing time at the start of the season would be a bad thing for the Oilers. But it might be what Arcobello needs to get his foot in the door. He's a great story, and if he's still around Edmonton when training camp ends I will certainly be pulling for him.