We're living in the era of the centre. Well, at least right now, Calgary finally has centre depth that extends further than ever before. With promising talent like Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett already on the Flames, the shutdown, bottom-six centres that are crucial to an organization's depth and design are needed as well. Solidifying those spots currently: Mikael Backlund and Matt Stajan. But down the depth chart is Bill Arnold, who could very well be chomping at the bit in the next couple of seasons.
The 6'0, 210 lb. Arnold, whose name is fit for a cowboy, is someone worth keeping an eye on next season in Stockton. After all, a relatively successful rookie season in Adirondack showed some promise of what Arnold could do without Hayes or Gaudreau: and it was well worth watching. He lost one of the best linemates he ever played with, but he still had a good season, which bodes well for his future.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Draft||2014-15 team||Vote total|
|19||Bill Arnold||05/13/92||108th Overall, 2010
||Adirondack Flames (AHL)||48
Prior to committing to Boston College, Arnold was a member of the US National Team's developmental program where he played among some exceptional talent. His acumen for a complete game resulted in being a member of the US U18 team in 2009-10 where he earned himself a silver medal. With that, he joined the BC Eagles in 2010-11 as a sophomore, and put up very respectable numbers.
With each passing season as a member of the Eagles, Arnold continued to build upon each year's prior success, one of which included a gold medal as a member of the US U20 team. His six points in six games was good for fourth on the squad. From there, Arnold and the Eagles captured the 60th Beanpot, which included him scoring the game-winning goal in OT:
Following the Beanpot tournament, Boston College defeated Ferris State for the National Championship. In his final collegiate season, the impressive talent of Gaudreau - Arnold - Hayes was put together. The success of the line catapulted the team to the Hockey East regular season title. Unfortunately, unable to recapture the success they had in 2012, the Eagles fell in the semifinals to Union. With that, his college career ended and he was signed, along with Gaudreau, to a two-year entry level contract.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Arnold's calling card screams two-way centre with shutdown capabilities. Whether it fully translates over to the NHL, or even AHL, remains to be seen. Judging from praise from his coach at Boston College, he can be counted upon to be responsible in all three zones. Coach Jerry York was able to deploy and utilize Arnold in all situations, including both the power play and penalty kill.
What may hold him back is actual depth in the organization and what his ceiling truly is. Regardless of putting up fantastic numbers in college, alongside Gaudreau and now-Rangers forward Kevin Hayes, it remains uncertain what he can do on his own, or with less-skilled forwards. Skating and mobility was initially a concern, although Arnold committed to improving it during his tenure with Boston College.
Future with the Flames
His ceiling at this point projects to bottom-six potential, but this is a positive as the team continues to grow. If he finds scoring success in the AHL and later finds himself permanently on the Flames, it'd be likely to see him utilized where Stajan is now. Finding strong bottom-six talent with legitimate skill is at a premium now, which the Flames should value.
That value could result in Arnold hypothetically being dealt, if another team acknowledges him and wants him in their fold. The main point to stress is to not set unrealistic expectations about Arnold, which often seems to be glossed over by fans and media alike.
Expectations for 2015-16
Similar to Garnet Hathaway and numerous other forwards heading to Stockton next season, having a strong 2015-16 in the AHL is the best thing for him. Building up on a strong rookie season with Adirondack where he did score 15 goals is a strong foundation into assessing what the trajectory of his career is. A necessity for him is rounding out his game. Becoming a strong option and someone Heat Coach Ryan Huska can rely on is all within Arnold's grasp. All he needs to do is make it happen.