CALGARY, AB -- As a regional scout for Red Line Report and a contributor for the New England Hockey Journal and the New York Hockey Journal, Kirk Luedeke has seen his fair share of Bill Arnold over the years.
The Calgary Flames 2010 fourth round pick has spent the last three years at Boston College and has largely flown under the radar with Flames fans despite posting decent numbers each season. However, for those who regularly attend games in Hockey East - like Luedeke - Arnold's progression over the last few years has been very impressive.
"He's the rare collegian who has tallied double-digit goals in each of his three NCAA seasons, so there is an element of being underrated there for Arnold," Luedeke told CalgaryFlames.com in an email. "Some of it has to do with the fact that he's been overshadowed by big names like Cam Atkinson, Chris Kreider, and now Johnny Gaudreau. More of that probably has to do with where he was picked- 108th overall - and the fact that he plays out in Hockey East.
"Billy was a highly-regarded prep player at Nobles (Noble & Greenough School) before he joined the U.S. National Team. He's grown tremendously under head coach Jerry York and that Boston College coaching staff both in terms of the development of his skills, but with his fitness and dedication to building his body towards an effective pro career."
Arnold has put countless hours into his conditioning and skating over the last three years and is reaping the benefits. A self-described two-way center who prides himself in his defensive play, the Needham, MA native has seen his offensive role grow each season.
In the 2012-13 season, Arnold sat 10th in Hockey East scoring with 17 goals and 35 points in 38 games and was utilized frequently on the power play. The 21 year-old registered 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) with the man advantage and was a constant menace for the opposition to defend against thanks to his bull-in-a-china-shop play in front of the net.
"He's a solid two-way player whose versatility will serve him well at the next level," Luedeke noted. "I'm not sure if he can be a big-time offensive producer at the NHL level, but he earned the trust of the BC coaches early on, and has steadily progressed each year. He's a smart, industrious player who has improved his skating and is someone the team counts on in all situations."
While Arnold posted an impressive 10 goals and 20 points in his freshman season with the Eagles, Luedeke saw a big shift in his development after the pivot participated in the 2012 World Junior Championship. The Americans didn't fair well in the tournament - finishing seventh - but the experience seemed to push Arnold's progression into high gear.
He scored 3 goals and ended up with 6 points in 6 games for the Americans and when he arrived back in Boston, his confidence was noticeable. The then-sophomore played the hero for the Eagles in the 2012 Beanpot tournament, scoring the game-winner against Boston University and was a point-per-game player in the 2012 Frozen Four, where Boston College captured the NCAA Championship.
Luedeke feels that extra jump came from his time at the World Junior Championship.
"I believe that confidence can have a huge impact on a young player's game. Mark Recchi once told me that his success in making Team Canada's 1988 World Junior squad was when he first truly began thinking he could make it to the NHL. Up to that point, Recchi had not even been drafted, so for a kid like Arnold, who was a middle of the pack kind of pick and prospect, he beat out some of the bigger USA names at camp.
"For him to then go on to put up a point-per-game, I can only guess it kick-started his belief in himself and served notice he can score goals and be counted on to provide consistent offence. You have seen that carried over in his play since: the hard work, the opportunistic play, the ability to compete in any role."
Arnold is headed back to Boston College for his senior season and with the graduation of several players last spring, he will once again take on a bigger role with the club. He and his fellow Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau will likely carry the Eagles offensively and provide leadership to the freshman class joining the team in the fall.
"I decided I wanted to stay at BC for four years and get my degree," the communications major stated. "Hopefully the next year, the Flames want to sign me and I'll be back (at development camp)."
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