Any Oilers fan who keeps up on the team on even a basic level will know the Edmonton Oilers are still in the hunt for a second line center. Nearly all available free agent centers are signed, leaving trade, waivers or a low risk player (say, Peter Mueller) as the only options.
That leaves the team with Leon Draisaitl as its shot in the dark. The only known quantity in the whole situation is Mark Arcobello. Of course, he played with the Oilers in 41 games last year, scoring 18 points and proving he is a thorny, tenacious player despite his Martin St. Louis size. In fact, he led the team in hits before Sam Gagner came back from his broken jaw.
We know now that Gagner came back too soon, and in the process cut short what should have been a longer look by the Oilers. Naturally, especially in the western conference, teams want as much size and skill as they can muster in the top 6. That’s really the battle Arcobello has to fight. He might have the talent, but he can also get crushed by Joe Thornton.
It’s tough to say if Arcobello makes the roster this year or not. He will get first line minutes in Oklahoma, of that there is no doubt. He scored at a torrid pace last season after returning from injury with 28 points in 15 games, only to get hurt again.
He’s healthy now and he knows his window won’t be open long. He needs to build core strength, play the best hockey of his life and hope a better player doesn’t supplant his place on the depth chart. The problem is he isn’t a good fit on the fourth line. Unless Draisaitl breaks out in his rookie season, the third line seems like where he belongs, but that is where our German draft phenom is projected to begin his season.
Arcobello may be one of those stories where you hope he can overcome–kind of like an ice bound Rudy. He may get to write that ending yet, but as time marches on, its less likely that movie gets made.