THE 2014 FLAMES FIFTEEN – #7: BILL ARNOLD

Bill Arnold, the product of Needham, Massachusetts, was selected in the 4th round (108th overall) by the Calgary Flames in 2010.  Arnold is described as a strong two-way centre that is very, very good in all three zones.  While not a tall player, standing at 6’0’’, Arnold is a big boy, tipping the scales at 210 pounds and certainly doesn’t get pushed around on the ice.  He comes in at #7 on our 2014 Flames 15.

 Justin   Kent   Ryan   BoL   Byron   Taylor   Christian   2013   2012 
Bill Arnold  5 9 6 10 3 8 13 6 10

The Flames prospect pool has gotten so much better over the past few years that Arnold, along with Max Reinhart, have actually gotten drastically better year after year since being drafted but their ranking in the Flames 15 has dropped from last year to this year.  This is not a bad thing. This is a very, very good thing.  The prospect pool is changing in dramatic fashion and it’s about to change all over again in a few weeks when the Flames select their 1st Top-5 draft pick in club history.

Arnold, who turned 22 in May, just finished his senior year of NCAA college hockey with Boston College, one of the very best teams of the Hockey East conference. Arnold’s resume includes three Frozen Four appearances, an NCAA championship, two conference championships, four straight Beanpot titles and a World Juniors invitation.  His career started as a bottom-six college player and he became one of the best two-way centers in the NCAA by the time he finished.   

This past year, Arnold played alongside Johnny Gaudreau (highly-touted 2011 Calgary Flames draft pick) and Kevin Hayes (2010 1st round pick of the Blackhawks) for the majority of the year and the three created the most potent line in the entire NCAA.  They outscored the next closest line by a landslide and put up most of the offense for BC.

At the time Arnold was drafted, out of the USHL, he had an NHLE of 18.13, putting up 23 points in 26 games – pretty typical numbers of a 4th round pick, if not even a little bit higher than what’s generally left at that point.  In his four years at Boston College, Arnold amassed 144 points (58 + 86) in 169 games; good for a ppg of 0.85.  His NHLE (and PPG obviously) steadily rose every year in college – freshman 17.24; sophomore 28.81; junior 31.00; senior 44.54.  His last year he jumped up in a big way but a lot of that jump probably comes from playing with Gaudreau and Hayes.  The positive jumps year after year are very positive, regardless.

 % Team Scoring    % PP Points    % Primary Points    % Johnny Points  
 32.30% (53/164)  18.88% (10/53)     60.38% (32/53)  81.13% (43/53)

Here’s a look at some relevant offensive stats concerning Arnold from his last season at BC. While he received more time on the PP near the end of the season, Arnold was seldom used on the PP throughout the year. In fact, only 10 of his 53 points came on the powerplay. Generally players putting up points comparable to Arnold’s would have at least 20%- 30% of their points coming from the PP, if not more. So that is a big positive that he was amassing most of his points at even strength and not with the extra man. 

On the other hand, Gaudreau was in on 81% of Arnold’s points. Is that concerning? It might be but Johnny, the best player in the entire NCAA by a country mile, basically created a goal every time he was on his ice and Arnold was his centerman so maybe there’s no way around that. We’d see the same thing from Kevin Hayes I would imagine. Plus, the Flames also drafted Johnny Gaudreau so no worries there… they’ll just play together for eternity! 

Conversely, of his 53 points, 60% of them were primary points (either the goal scorer or the 1st assist on the goal). This suggests that although Johnny had something to do with a lot of Arnold’s points, Arnold wasn’t just riding Gaudreau’s bus all over the ice. He was chipping in a fair bit.

Arnold’s shooting percentage last year was 18.9% (14 goals on 76 shots) which is a little high. Additionally, Arnold doesn’t appear to shoot very much. While Arnold took 76 shots in 40 games, Kevin Hayes took 140 shots and Gaudreau took 159 shots. But Arnold was believed to be the defensive pillar of the line which allowed Hayes and Gaudreau to cheat a little bit on the offense. Perhaps this helps to explain why he only got about half the shots of his linemates.  

CONCLUSION

A 4th round pick has about a 12% chance of playing in the NHL and about a 7-8% chance of hitting 200 games. So, in essence, if a team gets an NHL player out of the 4th round that’s a massive win. Arnold appears to not only be a future NHLer but a pretty decent future NHL player at that. I would say he looks like he winds up being a very good two-way 3rd line center with the chance to become a 50 point 2nd line centre that plays the tough minutes. I, for one, am very high on Arnold and believe he has the ability to turn into the latter option. 

He’ll most likely start his pro career next year in the AHL with a few call-ups throughout the season. My guess is he’s a full-time NHLer by the end of the 2015-16 season.   

  • T&A4Flames

    Question. We seem to have scored some of our top 10 prospects in the 3rd & 4th rounds in the US College. Because you say it is so rare for players to make the NHL drafted mid rounds, why do we have so many in our top 10? Are US College players thought less of by other NHL teams even though the NHLE is higher? Is it because they take that much longer to turn pro? How would our top 10 US College prospects rank in the majority of other NHL teams rankings(broad question, just looking for a broad opinion. I guess my point is if we have that many 3rd & 4th rounders in our top 10, is that a perceived good or bad thing. I’m not a scout but one could read into this 2 ways. Either our cupboards are that weak that 3rd & 4th rounders are the best we got or because Calgary’s rankings have shot up in Hockey Futures because these later picks are truly developing to what other teams 1st & 2nd rounders have developed to. Sorry for the ramble, just curious.

    • College is a longer commitment, the players play less games every year and the team has less power/involvement with the player because they can’t sign them to a pro contract while in pro.

      Honestly, the Flames have always had middle rounders in their top-10 prospects because an org only has so many 1st rounders at any given time. The difference now is some of those guys actually have a shot at being NHLers for a change.

    • T&A4Flames

      Quite possible, but whatever position he plays, I think he’s a lock to be an elite 3rd liner for a lot of years.

      Klimchuk/Reinhart/Arnold in about 2 years could be absolutely killer.

      Calgary’s prospect pool is getting very exciting.

    • mk

      That’s where Kevin Hayes will fit in… 😉 Bring back the #trio! Gaudreau/Arnold/Hayes will be our “Kane” line, while Monahan and Co will become our “Toews” line. WOOOO!!!

      (Wishful thinking, but a guy can dream right?)

      • piscera.infada

        In my limited (and crappy internet) viewings of Hayes, I never came away impressed. He seems to have a big shot, but no much else. Hell, I noticed Gaudreau having better board play than Hayes. He seems slow, and generally looked like a passenger on that line by the eyes-test.

        I’d be very interested in seeing some numbers on this though. Still, it’d be a worthwhile experiment if he wants to sign in Calgary.

        • T&A4Flames

          Yes, a big shot, that he was able to get off 140 times. That’s a lot. If all he does is shoot, then put him with play makers that can get him the puck in shooting lanes.

          Of course, we would have to sign him 1st.

  • BurningSensation

    “Question. We seem to have scored some of our top 10 prospects in the 3rd & 4th rounds in the US College. Because you say it is so rare for players to make the NHL drafted mid rounds, why do we have so many in our top 10?”

    The short answer, we got lucky/good with our 3rd and 4th round picks.

    Historically, the Flames have long looked at the College ranks as being an under-tapped source of talent going back to the years we drafted guys like Joel Otto.

    That said, the Flames prospect pool is given a substantial bump by having really high quality guys in Arnold and Gaudreau arrive from the later rounds as legit high-end prospects.

    It doesn’t matter what round the guys are drafted in, it matters if they are good.

  • T&A4Flames

    Like Trevor, I wonder if Arnold could become a solid RW. He has the size to play the boards, that’s for sure. With the dearth of RW prospects, I could see either he or Knight moved to the wing. To bad because both are pretty good at taking draws.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Yep, that makes a lot of sense. Honestly, the entire future 3rd line for the Flames might exist in prospect form, between Arnold, Knight, and Reinhart. To me they strike me as ideal players for a 3rd line in terms of their likely projections.

    • DragonFlame

      Jarome was a winger and managed to take a lot of face offs (and has a career average of over 50%). There are not a lot of logistics involved for a winger taking draws then quickly changing positions with the center once the face off has taken place.

      • Byron Bader

        Iginla was basically used religiously on his strong side in the o-zone to take draws and did quite well. Throwing a centre on a wing is a pretty easy transition (they essentially get less of a workload) whereas trying to transition a winger to a centre full-time is a much tougher approach. I don’t think you can ever go wrong having too many centres on a team because of the ability to put them on the wing. San Jose, for instance, basically sends out 2-3 lines of mostly natural centres every game. They can use guys on their strong side and cheat on faceoffs all they want. If Thorts gets kicked out, no problem, Marleau, Pavelski, etc. can just slot right in.

      • T&A4Flames

        True. But it’s not an ideal situation. That said, if only 1 gets shifted to wing and they’re on the same line, that’s a good situation for us if one gets thrown out.

        • acg5151

          Why isnt it ideal?

          Having a roster full of forwards who can win draws seems pretty ideal to me…. i would even go so far as optimal.

          If you have decent speed you can play wing if you are a centre… not a hard transition.

  • Parallex

    “The prospect pool is changing in dramatic fashion and it’s about to change all over again in a few weeks when the Flames select their 1st Top-5 draft pick in club history”

    Here’s the most wonderful part… that first top 5 pick in team history would probably land no higher then 3 on this list (whoever it is will probably not immediately eclipse Monahan and Gaudreau who I presume are 1 & 2 on this list).

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Two questions:

    1-Who is the best NHLer in history (also modern era: post 2005) who played all 4 years college (implies got degree too)?

    2-A while back I was reading about smartest pro athletes and they listed Craig Breslow and Christian Ponder. Who is it for hockey?

    • piscera.infada

      I thought the “smartest pro athlete” is Ryan Fitzpatrick? Assuming buy-in to that Wonderlic crapfest the NFL employs (he scored a near-perfect 48 on it, the highest of any NFL quarterback in history).

    • Byron Bader

      Great question. I have not a clue. I was thinking Blake Wheeler or Joe Pavelski might fit the modern day mold but they didn’t technically finish their degrees and play all four years of NCAA before turning pro. Anybody I can think of that has had a decent career left after their 2nd or 3rd year. Otto, Nieuwendyk, Hull, Heatley, Toews, Stastny,Oshie, Kariya …

      • Jeff Lebowski

        Yeah. It’s hard to find out. IIRC Joe Juneau finished his degree early (3 years) from RPI . A Technical School : math & science.

        For modern? Perhaps those that really have a chance to make impact just don’t stay 4 years. Especially with the rule changes that have increased young players in NHL.

        • supra steve

          One of the smartest (book smarts) people I know (from school) didn’t follow a lot of the rest of my grad class to university. He went to a tech school then took over the family farm. He has gone on to make some really good choices in his life and some really bad ones, like the rest of us.

          I wouldn’t automatically assume that the smartest NHLer went the college route. A lot of smart people go the university route, and a lot don’t. And a lot of smart people do some really stupid things.

          • McRib

            Former OHLer Dougie Hamilton for example of the Boston Bruins has the IQ of most brain surgeons, rumor has it that he actually fell a couple of picks in the draft because a few teams were worried if things didn’t go his way in pro he had so many other options, apparently he has an IQ in the top 99%. I think the NCAA wants you to believe all the smartest players go that route, know a lot of smart kids that went Major Junior (and some who were not, haha) though as well and that some NHLers complete degrees own time although just doesn’t get any publicity.

            There are other stories of guys like Zemgus Girgensons who wasn’t smart enough to even pass the basic NCAA clearinghouse (55-60% High School Average) and thats why he went straight to AHL. I think IQ only matters on a case by case basis for making good NHLers. There are a lot of very good NHLers who were not extremely smart (Messier, Fleury, Lafleur, Etc) and relied on compete and athletic skills. Whereas guys like Jonathan Tavares, Sam Reinhart are all all Hockey IQ and smarts.

  • McRib

    Someone like Morgan Klimchuk has signifcantly more upside than Bill Arnold for me, but it is hard to ignore the season Arnold just had. Agree Arnold is currently higher on the prospect curve, but… Morgan Klimchuk (NHLE +1 = 31.94). Bill Arnold (NHLE +1 = 17.24)

    The most significant thing for me though about the Flames current prospect situation is getting the most out of middle round picks like John Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, Max Reinhart and Michael Ferland is extremely beneficial to our overall player development as a franchise. As competition creates success with these mid-rounder’s competing for NHL roster spots down the road they will also influence our top picks like Poirier, Klimchuk to further advance games and push harder. Rather than resting on laurels expecting an NHL roster spot without earning one.

    One only has to look back a few years to when our cupboards were completely bare and think of someone like Ryan Howse, who after a couple decent WHL seasons came into camp thinking he was a lock to be an NHLer someday after looking over his competition to do so. So in his head it was clear to him that he just had to go through the motions in the AHL (not working on major weaknesses like skating), until he “paid his dues” for a couple of years when he would be up with the big club. Obviously this has changed, because when someone like Bill Arnold looks at our AHL Roster he sees a lot of good players pushing for the NHL as well that aren’t just going to go lightly (Max Reinhart, Corbin Knight, Markus Granlund, Michael Ferland, Kenny Agostino, etc). I actually think this is where we failed Sven Baertschi slighty as an organization, because when he came in here we were extremely desperate for any decent prospect and we labelled him as this “big new hope” that could do no wrong. Obviously he thought he had it made and his progression halted as a cause of it, that said I hope he can get it back this off season.

    • T&A4Flames

      Someone like Morgan Klimchuk has signifcantly more upside than Bill Arnold for me, but it is hard to ignore the season Arnold just had. Agree Arnold is currently higher on the prospect curve, but… Morgan Klimchuk (NHLE +1 = 31.94). Bill Arnold (NHLE +1 = 17.24)

      yeah, a lot of it (for me) is that arnold might play nhl full-time next year whereas klimchuk will probably just be in the whl – but honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of next year they’re switched because as you say klimchuk has that ceiling.

  • T&A4Flames

    RE: NHLers with degrees

    Two guys who are apparently very smart are Lee Stempniak and David Jones. I believe Stempniak worked on Wall Street during the lockout. Both are Dartmouth alums as well.

    Parros is no slouch with an Econ degree from Princeton

    • McRib

      chi owns his rights until august 15. there are reasons for the blackhawks not to extend a contract until july 1, so I don’t think we can say that he’s refusing to sign until like july 10 or so. at that point, you can bet the flames will be prepared to make a run at him as soon as he’s no longer hawks property.

  • T&A4Flames

    Click reply and then do not click the include quote in reply box. Instead, copy and paste the part of the quote you want into the window and surround it with italics tags like I have done here.

  • acg5151

    Jimmy Carson, aka the guy that Gretzky was traded for, was pretty smart. He played hockey for a while, and when he got tired of it he quit and went into finance.

    Nothing wrong with that!

  • loudogYYC

    So back to Arnold; six weeks ago I ranked him 10th however he’s one of the prospects I’m most excited to see next season. Out of all the C prospects, I think he’s the most likely to secure a spot in 3 years (3C).

      • PrairieStew

        Exactly. Where do Arnold, Knight and Max fit – can they really push each other to be the everyday #4 centre this year ?

        I know we will have the Granlund discussion later but if 2 of these guys show they can play and Granlund progresses again what happens with Stajan?

        • Byron Bader

          I don’t see Stajan making it all the way through his contract. If it gets to the stage that we’re “forced” to trade Stajan that would be very positive.