Is there a more boring name than "Bill Arnold" in professional hockey? Hard to say, but probably not.
Is there a more underrated (and unknown) Flames prospect than Bill Arnold? Again, probably not – and that’s definitely a good thing
The six foot, 210 lb. center from Needham, Massachusetts will never be mistaken for his teammate and fellow draft prospect Johnny Gaudreau. He’s a decent size and likes to use his body when he can. But don’t take that to mean he’s a 4th line energy player. Arnold brings plenty of other qualities.
Drafted in the 4th round in 2010, Arnold was a US National U-18 standout, though hardly a household name. He scored 8-15-23 in 26 GP. That was his only season there before plowing into the NCAA’s Hockey East Conference with Boston College. It’s not a number that wows, but Arnold scored 10-10-20 in 39 GP as a freshman for BC, which becomes significantly more impressive when you realize BC is a defense first team, and Arnold was centering the shutdown line.
Arnold is the prototypical Darryl Sutter draft pick: not the most "skilled"- but he skates hard, hits hard, works hard, and knows where he’s supposed to be on the ice. To that end, he easily projected to a fourth liner after his freshman year, but his sophomore season took everyone by surprise. With 36 points in 42 games as the second line center (and not playing with leading score and first rounder Chris Kreider), Arnold tapped into an unexpected offensive well.
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*Reminder – The evaluators were asked to rank players, and we sorted the rankings via a simple point scale-number 15 on each list got one point, while number 1 on each list got 15. The criteria for who was included was pretty simple: players the Flames control who are 23 and under (excluding Mikael Backlund, since he’s already a bona fide NHLer).
While #24 has good defensive and two-way instincts, he’s not a perfect player. His offense isn’t created by an exceptional vision or silky hands it’s mostly through playing an incredibly solid defensive game that leads to breakout opportunities for his more offensive minded teammates. His skating is another area lacking and although his initial stride has improved in his time at BC, but it’s still a bit ungainly.
Having seen Arnold play more than a few times, he comes across as a player who’ll never be an NHL All-Star, but certainly has the potential to be a quality two-way center. To see the dedication he has to defence as a NCAA sophmore is fascinating and rare. If anything will put him in the NHL, it’s that.
With two more years in the NCAA (most likely), Bill Arnold will have plenty of time to refine his offensive instincts for the pro game under Jerry York and work on his skating with Assistant Coach Greg Brown.
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