Dobber investigates the surprise new guy on the Oilers - Mark Arcobello
When you look at the top scorers for the Edmonton Oilers after seven games, you see names like "Hall" and "Perron" leading the way with six points. But you also see a third name up there, also with six points, and that name isn't "Eberle" or "Nugent-Hopkins". It's not "Yakupov" or "Hemsky" either. It's Mark Arcobello, an undrafted 25-year-old who ended his productive four-year term at Yale in 2010 but only managed to get an ECHL contract.
Before we proceed, let's take a quick look at Arcobello's linemates this season so far:
ARCOBELLO,M - EBERLE,J - HALL,T
ARCOBELLO,M - EBERLE,J - PERRON,D
ARCOBELLO,M - EBERLE,J - SMYTH,R
ARCOBELLO,M - HEMSKY,A - PERRON,D
ARCOBELLO,M - PERRON,D - YAKUPOV,N
That's an impressive list of names.
So what do we have here in Mr. Arcobello? Do we trust this production? His six assists leads the team. As does his plus-4. His 58 face-off wins are second and his 15 hits sit him fourth on the squad.
It's a little early to be looking too deeply into advanced stats, but hell - it's a little early to be looking at the basic stats too, and we just did that. So let's keep going. Arcobello's offensive zone start percentage is 58.0, which sits him fifth among Edmonton (regular) forwards. So he's been getting favorable shifts. His PDO, at 1094, is high but that's mainly due to a higher-than-normal on-ice save percentage (0.969). The on-ice shooting percentage is also high (teammates have scored on 12.5% of their shots when he's on the ice), but not so obscene this early in the season where a massive correction is going to knock his pace down any.
His current pace is to notch 70 points and the numbers above, while too small a sample size to be sure, indicates a slight decline probably to the 55-point range. But we could have gathered that just by using our head. If all things remain equal, this newcomer is not going to finish up with 70 points. But 55 points is doable.
But therein lies the problem. The "all things remain equal" part. See, there's this player who is kind of important to the team. Sam Gagner? Gagner also plays the center position and he is set to return from his broken jaw in about a month. When that happens, all bets are off. So Arcobello has 13 more games to make himself indispensible. Another 10 points should do it. Can he get 16 points in these first 20 games?
If he does, then Gagner could find himself on the wing. Gagner isn't very strong at the faceoff circle and, as noted above, Arcobello has won 58% of his draws.
All the stats in the world, particular from just seven games, aren't going to give us a 100% answer. All we can do is develop a set of probable outcomes and make decisions accordingly. Here are my best guess-timates for when Gagner returns:
1. Arcobello could be knocked out of the top six and continue to help the team as a depth scorer and face-off man. This would mean 12 to 16 points in the first 20 games and 25 points in the next 60 for a total of around 38 points. This is the easy pick, thus the most likely. 55%
2. Arcobello could hold onto his top six spot, Gagner moves to the wing and Arcobello continues to roll. This is the toughest one to pick, because injuries could play a factor. Arcobello could get hurt, or any of the other centermen (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Boyd Gordon). A hundred other factors could impact this. But chemistry with Jordan Eberle - his linemate in the AHL during the lockout - is undeniable and from a fantasy standpoint, this outcome is obviously the most desirable and would lead to a final points total of around 56. 25%
3. Arcobello hangs onto his top six spot initially, but due to an erosion of power-play time and/or an injury and/or chemistry with changing linemates, the production stops. His ice time declines, he winds up in the press box for a few games and eventually, the AHL. Peg the points total here at around 23. 20%
The odds for success are less than even for Arcobello, but that's the way it is for most prospects. Often the odds are even worse. All things considered, Arcobello is in a very good spot right now and reminds me of David Desharnais from two years ago. Desharnais, if you recall, was also never drafted and he also had to fight his way up from the ECHL. Regardless of end-of-year success, those looking for a short-term boost will almost certainly find it here. His little run will likely continue until Gagner returns. It's those in need of longer-term help, with limited transactions, who have a tough decision to make.
Roll the dice. And good luck.
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