Nothing against Oklahoma City Barons fans, but American Hockey League All-Star center Mark Arcobello hopes Friday night's NHL preseason game is his final time to play on the Cox Convention Center ice.
At age 25, the all-time leading scorer in Barons history finally is getting an opportunity to play steady NHL minutes.
A “bubble” candidate to make Edmonton's roster entering training camp, Arcobello played well in preseason. In Friday's NHL Showcase, a Dallas Stars 4-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers in front of 8,841 fans, Arcobello was on a line with Jordan Eberle and Finland winger Jesse Joensuu.
“My only focus right now is that first game (Tuesday night) of the regular season,” Arcobello said. “I'm hungry. I've been waiting for this chance for a while. I'm going to make the most of it.”
It could be an extended “tryout” for Acrobello.
Edmonton's No. 1 center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will miss a month recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Oilers No. 2 center Sam Gagner might be sidelined two months with a broken jaw. To help fill the void, Taylor Hall has moved to center on the No. 1 line.
“It's unfortunate what happened to Gags but it's an opportunity for me,” Arcobello said. “Hopefully I take advantage of it.”
The all-time leader in points and goals in the Barons' three-year history in OKC, Arcobello finished the preseason second on the Oilers roster in shots (13). He was third in scoring with four points in six games.
“I was on the same line with Arco when Nuge went to the world (juniors) last year around Christmas,” Eberle said. “A lot of times we actually did a lot better with Arco. ... It's great to see him get a shot.”
The Yale product from Milford, Conn., gained invaluable experience playing with Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz, who played in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout.
“That definitely helped me to gain experience with those guys,” Arcobello said. “In (training) camp I knew exactly what to expect. It also helped knowing some guys in the locker room.”
With Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner sidelined, Arcobello suddenly becomes a spotlight player for the Oilers, who are trying to end a seven-year playoff drought, the longest in the NHL.
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