The Flames Fifteen: #10 – Bill Arnold



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.

The Goods

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. 


Player Kent Justin WI Scott VF Arik (Not Counted)
Bill Arnold 11 11 N/R 11 8 5

[HockeyDB] [EliteProspects] [Hockey’s Future]


 *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.


The List

Player   Kent   Justin   WI   Scott   VF   Arik (NC)   Final Rank
Bill Arnold   11   11   0   11   8   5   10
Greg Nemisz   9   13   0   5   15   15   11
Paul Byron   12   10   0   12   11   9   12
John Ramage   14   12   0   0   12   10   13
Chris Breen   0   15   0   13   0   14   14
Tyler Wotherspoon   0   14   0   0   10   0   15


  • Oyo

    It excites me seeing how many good two way centers are coming through the ranks. Ie Backlund, Reinhart, Arnold. I believe this is a good recipe for success having a team that has centerman strong in both ends of the ice with some scoring wingers. Such as any of the teams still remaining in the post season! We have a few of those as well. The team may have a lack of elite talent outside of Sven but I have a feeling in 3-4 years from now this team could be a balanced effective team.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Seems to me there could be a bottle-neck on the Flames roster in the next few years at the centre ice position – bottom 3 lines & particularly on the 3rd & 4th lines.

    To me it seems we have a number of guys that are currently projecting to fill that role (Horak, Reinhart, Backlund, Jones, Arnold, Byron, etc.) Am I missing anyone – besides Stajan (he will not be here in a couple of years)? This isn’t to say all of these guys make the show, but most have a realistic chance.

    It seems we keep adding centreman (ie Jokinen, Cervanka & the prospects above)in hopes of finding that #1 line centre, but what we seem to constantly end up with is 2nd to 4th line centres.

    I think the Flames should stop drafting centremen late in the draft & focus on finding that #1 centre which is likely only to be found through trade or a high 1st round pick. Focus on D & wingers these next draft.

  • Oyo

    They have tiers of guys, though. You’ve got Backlund and Reinhart who I’d call the upper tier (good bets to be effective 2nd line centres, possibly 1st liners), then the rest; Jones is pretty much established as a bottom 6 centre at this stage (decently effective at it), Byron is barely replacement level, and we don’t know what Arnold will do. It’s not enough to create a logjam, because Jones and Byron are both pretty expendable at this stage and Arnold is at least two years out from his debut in all likelihood.

    With the way the team is going, the Flames are all but guaranteed a fairly high first round pick in the near future as it is, anyway.

  • everton fc

    I still see Backlund as a career #3 centre, and if that’s the case, he’s expendable. Hope I’m wrong… But I know he’s on the list.

    As for the rest:

    Reinhart’s a keeper.

    Horak’s a #3 centre. Good two-way guy, with offencive potential with the right linemates. But he doesn’t blow anyone away.

    Byron won’t be a centre here with this log-jam. My feeling he’s a career AHL player. I’d write him off the list…

    Jones is a bottom 6 mucker. He has speed and size. We need size, and I get this sneaky suspicion a good teacher/mentor (example – Troy Ward) might be able to get some offencive potential out of Jones. He’s young. Keep him on the list… He’s the type of player who can really fill a lower-6 role effectively. Or so it seems (ditto Bouma, technically another centre, but hopefully a long-time 4th line mucker here)

    Arnold – I like thes write up and this kids potential. He’d be a perfect player for a coach like Ward to develop. Defencive skills like Arnold’s, if properly prepared, are an asset. He’s got some meat on his bones, as well.

    Nemisz – One thing I like about Nemisz is his size. If he could get to Arnold’s weight, he might be able to give Jones a run as a 4th line centre, with better hands. I see him as nothing more than that. If he and Reinhart can develop some chemistry on the farm next season, he might have a shot here. A guy like Arnold could make Nemisz obsolete. Time will tell. I’m not convinced Nemisz is higher on the list than Ben Walter sometimes. Or Byron. But he has to stay on the list for on more season. (Question: why has Ben Walter never been able to make the leap? Will he get a look next season??)

    Cervenka – Won’t know until mid-season next year. If he’s able to transition to a #2 centre… Great.

    And the more you look at these lists above… The more it makes me feel Troy Ward might be the right guy at the right time to develop this group for the future.

    (Afterthoughts: If we could play Sven w/a centre like Statsny… Can you imagine?? Can you imagine if Gaudreau is for real, can play in the NHL, and is slotted with a hulking, playmaking centre w/speed and hands?!)

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    @ SmellofVictory

    Fair enough & it’s probably not a bad thing to have all that depth at the C position, however I am frustrated that for all these years we haven’t been able to land a legit #1 line centre. I just hope there is more to the plan of finding this player than throwing crap at the wall & seeing what sticks (with no offense intended to any of our current centremen).

    Even if it meant trading up at the draft to get this type of player, or making sure a #1 centreman comes back in trading involving either Iggy or Kipper.

  • Graham

    New mantra for the Flames going forward…

    ‘Quality over Quantity’

    We have filled the organization with bottom six forwards / bottom 2-3 d men. While some of these guys may actually play in the NHL, (which based on our draft / scouting record is a plus) we have a deficient in ‘quality’ high end prospects in all areas.

    For years the Flames have traded down at the draft, lets try trading up… give up those lower round picks to move up in the first or second rounds…. add fewer ‘higher’ quality guys. Signing / trading for bottom level talent is never a problem.

    • Unfortunately, the team has had neither quality nor quantity at the draft for years. Flames have had the fewest amount of top-60 picks going for awhile now. That trend doesn’t change this year – they have only one pick in the first three rounds (14th overall).

          • Arik

            Not sure that’s accurate Kent. Pretty sure only the 2nd rounder is gone. The last third traded away was the 2011 3rd they gave along with Johnson for Staios.

          • RexLibris

            Now Kent, I know the Flames drafting used to be bad enough to assume the picks were gone before the draft even happened, but things have gotten better recently haven’t they?

            BTW, Brossoit had a heck of a game tonight and saved the Oil Kings’ bacon in the 2nd period.

            Baertschi is outperforming Rattie, from what I have seen, in this series. It could be argued that the two best Flames prospects in the junior position are a winger and goaltender.

            Hmmm, a winger and a goaltender…that sounds familiar… almost like they’ve been in that boat before…

            If the Flames can luck out and draft Gaunce, or even Girgensons, this year then they may have the closest thing to a developing first line center that they have had in the last few years. I know they have an abundance of centers in the system right now, but you can move a center to the wing far more easily than a winger to the middle. And as has been noted, many of these prospects would be best served by being slotted in to a 2nd to 3rd line role.

          • Vintage Flame

            Baertschi is outperforming Rattie, from what I have seen, in this series. It could be argued that the two best Flames prospects in the junior position are a winger and goaltender.

            Bärtschi is outperforming everyone on the ice right now. It is pretty exciting to watch this kid play. It is very interesting to listen to the radio feeds from both Portland and Edmonton about this series.

            Portland, and the coaches talk about when Bärtschi returned from his stint with the Flames that he came back a little different. While his work ethic and his level of competitiveness was never questioned, he managed to find another gear after coming back from Calgary.

            They said many kids come back dejected because after having a taste of the bigs, but not Sven. He took what he learned up here and used it to his advantage to help Portland and has just been playing like he’s possessed ever since. The guys that do Portland’s broadcasts say he is just a man amongst boys right now, that can score pretty much whenever he feels like it… And he’s still only 19.

            In Edmonton they won’t chat him up quite as much but they do acknowledge his offensive ability. They said that the Oil Kings have given up on trying to prevent him from scoring, because they know he will. Instead now their focus has been to keep him from scoring when it will hurt the EOK the most. Limit his opportunities and just move on when he does score.

            Brossoit has been very, very good and let’s face it, he’s the reason Bärtschi hasn’t won this series on his own already.

            That being said, I’m not sure I agree with your assessment that our two best prospects are a winger and a goalie? While I won’t speak as to Sven’s credentials because I don’t wanna spoil the surprise as to his placing in the top 15 [I know the anticipation is killing everyone], I can’t see anyone jumping to the conclusions as to a 19 year old goalie being the next big hope.

            The kid is good but definitely will need some more time to showcase his skill and develop his game from the WHL to the AHL and hopefully to the NHL. I’m not prepared to say he’s automatically top 2 based on this playoffs.

            I know you’re skeptical as to the level of talent the Flames have in their prospects, but don’t just immediately jump to the Edmonton kid there Rex. 😉

          • RexLibris

            drafting Gaunce would hardly be lucky. If it was solely based on skill/potential, Gaunce wouldn’t go any higher than 20th. He’s Mark McNeill, just not as good (though likely better defensively). And I’ve never liked McNeill.

            Names likely to be called by the Flames:
            Maatta, Aberg, Collberg, Girgensons, outside chance of Pouliot. Right now, though, I’m thinking Girgensons goes to Buffalo for some reason.

  • everton fc

    Invisible is a good name for WI, as he either never picked anything, or he’s got an a really interesting take on the top 15.

    Arnold fits in right where I figured he would, I doubt he ever cracks the top 3 or top 6 of an NHL team, but with his size and if he figures his skating out, he could be a better greg Nemisz and sit on a third line or something.

    It’s great to have a nice asset like Arnold that is a center with big size, if his skating improves, those types of players just don’t grow on trees.

  • T&A4Flames

    I’ve thought Arnold is a criminally underrated prospect for a while now. This season, I’ve had him ranked as high as 4th in the system (though that was right after the WJC, and I was still completely enamored with the fact that he was pretty much the only impressive forward on that team).

  • Truculence

    My list

    1. Baertschi 2. Brodie 3. Reinhart 4. Gaudreau 5. Irving 6. Granlund 7. Ferland 8. Leach 9. Brossoit 10. Howse 11. Horak 12. Nemisz 13. Arnold 14. Bouma 15. Byron

    As for the 3rd we still have it. We pick every round except the 2nd which we traded to the Sabres in the Regehr trade.

    We traded our 5 to the Devils for Leblond (yuck) but recovered a 5 in the Cammalleri deal (of course that cost us a second the following year).

    We acquired a second 7-rounder from Toronto way back in 2009 as part of the Primeau deal.

  • RexLibris

    I could easily see the Flames taking Gaunce, but I’d rather see them go for Teravainen. I think Gaunce will go right in the middle of the first round. Girgensons will go mid-late round so I don’t think that we’ll take him with #14.

  • PrairieStew

    Bill Arnold is a vanilla name but…..

    I knew a guy named Bill Smith, he played offensive line for the Dinos in the late 80’s. He met a girl named Mary at University and they got married. Yep Bill and Mary Smith.

    As for Arnold being Joel Otto 2.0, he’s not that big – Otto was 6’4 maybe 6’5 and Bill is only at 6 feet.

    With the development of these similar guys I would not be suprised to see one packaged in a deal (eg with Iggy or Kipper) to bring in higher skill prospects.

  • RexLibris


    Teravainen I have seen ranked as high as 5th overall and as low as 16th, all from fairly reliable prospect resources. His skill set sets him quite high for a scouting service that is willing to overlook his size, others see his size as already creating an impediment to more production at his current level and so are extrapolating that it will become even more so as he moves into better competition.

    Gaunce has gone up and down repeatedly. He probably should go in the mid teens of the first round based on skill and his scouting reports, but there may be a run on forwards between picks 6 and 13 because of so many quality defenseman. Scarcity breeds value.

    Gaunce, Maatta, Pouliot, Faksa and Girgensons are all names that Feaster could announce at the podium and arguably the Flames could do well with any of them.

  • RexLibris

    My list–>

    1. Baertschi

    2. Brodie

    3. Reinhart

    4. Gaudreau

    5. Irving

    6. Horak

    7. Nemisz

    8. Ferland

    9. Leach

    10. Granlund

    11. Brossoit

    12. Ramage

    13. Arnold

    14. Byron

    15. Wotherspoon

  • RexLibris


    No worries, I was just having a little joke about the similarities between the two most discussed veterans and two of the most discussed prospects. 😉

    I’ve watched all the games on Shaw and while I can understand where you are coming from about the Edmonton media and Baertschi, I think you are reading a little too much into it. Honestly the media have been very balanced towards him and have outright said that he is the most talented player in the WHL right now. In the paper, radio, and television there hasn’t been a reluctance to discuss him as a player right now or a prospect for the future. The discussion is limited to his involvement in the WHL series.

    The Oil Kings haven’t said anything about giving up covering him (that would be akin to just giving up entirely) but they have said that they are looking to contain Baertschi and isolate him from his teammates so that if he does get on a roll that it doesn’t extend to his linemates. Very similar to what you have noted as well.

    Brossoit has made saves when the Oil Kings have absolutely needed him to, and if the goalies were switched this series would have ended in five games.

    Brossoit might do well in returning next season and then spending a good stretch of time in the ECHL/AHL. I don’t for a second think that he will automatically become the Flames version of Quick or Rinne. It is far too soon. He had a good regular season and has been phenomenal in the playoffs. It is good news, but there are still miles to go.

    I’m quite surprised I haven’t seen any semi-jesting #BaertschiforCalder tags being thrown around yet.

    I am just that, skeptical, about the Flames prospect depth at this time. Not cynical but just keeping in mind that there is a lot yet to be proven.

    The Barons have had some decent playoff success thus far and the good indications are that it is stemming from some very good play out of the Oiler prospects in Pitlick, Vande Velde, Lander, Keller, and Paajarvi. They had a quiet regular season and are showing well now. As encouraging as that is, I know that they still have a long way to go and I’m not going to start declaing that Pitlick is our 2nd line center or that Lander will be better than John Madden ever was.

    A healthy does of skepticism, yes. But not limited to the Flames prospects.