Arnold might just be the most intriguing Flames centre not in the NHL. There
were some comments and concerns, especially in his senior year at Boston
College, that he may have piggy-backed off of Johnny Gaudreau’s skill. That can
be put to rest now.
was one third of the NCAA’s most potent offensive line alongside Gaudreau and
Kevin Hayes, yet he’s the only member of that line that hasn’t made it to the
NHL full-time. After a very successful (if not banged-up) rookie pro season, Arnold’s
chance to join his linemates as an NHL regular seems to be leaning towards a
matter of ‘when’ than ‘if.’
explore what needs to happen for Arnold to make the Calgary Flames next season.
chances of making the Flames are largely contingent on what happens with Matt
Stajan over the next year.
is still under contract for three more seasons, so it’s not as easy as moving
Arnold in and letting Matty Franchise go. However, if Stajan’s play diminishes
in any way during the 2015-16 season, the decision becomes a bit easier to
promote Arnold. This is not to say Stajan is no longer valuable to the Flames.
He certainly is valuable with his veteran leadership as evidenced by being the
first one to congratulate a young player when he comes to the bench. Beyond
that, he’s a damn useful fourth line centre and might be a good third liner on
he’s occupying the spot Bill Arnold wants right now.
ideal plan here is that Stajan plays one more year with the Flames and is traded
the following summer, leaving Arnold with a place in the line-up. Meanwhile,
Arnold can continue to develop in Stockton and build on his already impressive
AHL play. It’s not like he absolutely must
be in the NHL next season, but he is knocking on the door.
would argue that Arnold’s handedness is one of his biggest points of leverage
for him to make it to the Bigs. It may not seem all that important, but when
you start to take a look up and down the Flames’ line up, you’ll see a lot of lefties – and that bodes well
Arnold is one of only two centres in the entire Calgary Flames organization who
shoots right (if you don’t count regular-pivot Josh Jooris). The other is Drew
Shore. Shore is a career 46.2% faceoff man in the NHL. Arnold, on the other
hand, has been a faceoff machine throughout his career – a true student of the
faceoff dot (there aren’t any stats available to prove my point; you’ll just
have to trust me that’s he’s really
good). I don’t see that changing once he dons the flaming ‘C’. Being a
right-handed centre with good faceoff ability and outstanding defensive play in
the NHL gives the head coach a myriad of options (and coaches like options).
This is the perfect storm for Arnold.
as I wrote last
the Flames’ centre depth is greater than at any other time in recent history.
Bill Arnold is a large reason why. However, if the C-Train gets a little
crowded, which it looks like it is, Arnold could easily be flipped to right
wing, which is a point of weakness for the Flames.
days the litmus test for a head coach to allot playing time for a young player
is trust. Trust, in life and in hockey, is the most important currency. That’s
why Josh Jooris stuck, that’s why Sam Bennett stuck, that’s what Monahan, Gaudreau
and Granlund stuck. Trust.
the NHL, trust is earned largely though defensive play. You have to show your
coaches that you’re not a liability. This is why Arnold’s promotion falls under
the category of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. Playing offense against Arnold is
tougher than an oak knot. He barely gives you any room, let alone quality scoring
chances. Once Arnold is given some ice time, there is no doubt in my mind that
Hartley will be on board simply based on his ability to play solid two-way
Matt Stajan might be Arnold’s predecessor for the fourth line job, Drew Shore
is Arnold’s direct competition. Both are outstanding prospects for that spot
and both have equally as impressive skills to stick in the NHL. The thing is,
only one of them can have the job and the other, in the best case scenario,
moves to the wing.
that’s a best case scenario. Unfortunately for Arnold and/or Shore, you’ve got
a ridiculous number of winger prospects who could
be ready for the jump following next season, meaning whoever gets pushed to the
wing has a whole new field of competition.
currently has the experience, and thus the edge, in this battle for the fourth
line spot, but I wouldn’t rule out Arnold just yet. This is certainly one of
those training camp battles you won’t want to overlook.