Hours after news broke that Johnny Gaudreau would forgo his senior season and join the Calgary Flames, he won the Hobey Baker Award as the game's best collegiate player. Lost in that shuffle was the news that Boston College senior Bill Arnold would join Gaudreau when the Flames head to Vancouver this weekend. Arnold, a fourth round pick of Calgary in 2010, signed his contract tonight after the BC season ended yesterday.
Although Gaudreau is the coveted piece of the Calgary rebuilding puzzle, Arnold is no slouch in the statistical performance department. He came to Boston College after playing for the United States U-18 National Development team, a local product out of Needham, Massachusetts. At 6'0" and 200 pounds, he is the much larger of the two Eagle prospects this season and one of the more consistent performers over the past four years.
Joining BC during the 2010-2011 season, he scored 10 goals and 10 assists in his freshman season en route to being named to the All-Hockey East Rookie team. That helped translate to a breakout sophomore year when he scored 36 points, including 17 goals, during the national championship season of 2011-2012.
During the 2012 season, Arnold appeared with Team USA as part of the World Junior Championships in, ironically enough, Calgary. Of his 36 points, he registered 24 of them in Hockey East contests and scored with 6.4 seconds left in overtime to lift the Eagles over Boston University in the Beanpot Championship game.
Last year, Arnold recorded more of the same statistics, scoring 17 goals again while registering 35 points. He historically helped Jerry York his record-tying 924th career victory by scoring twice in a 5-2 win over Boston University on the Conte Forum ice. He developed his game as one of the premier face off men in the nation, winning more than half the draws he took, and he was named the winner of the Snooks Kelley Award as one of the players who best typify Boston College hockey.
That led to a further breakout this year. Playing with Gaudreau and fellow NHL draft pick Kevin Hayes, Arnold scored 53 points as BC became the only team in the nation with three 50-point scorers. He registered 39 assists, helping Hayes and Gaudreau score a combined 63 goals. He also developed a reputation as an enforcer by drawing 20 penalties for a combined 51 minutes, second most on the team.
Arnold will now head to Calgary with Gaudreau as a tandem that the Flames hope will revitalize the downtrodden franchise. As part of the rebuilding process, Calgary selected Arnold a year ahead of Gaudreau with the intention of pairing them together. Now that they've signed Gaudreau, it's only natural to bring in a teammate who can aid with the transition to the pro game. From a locker room standpoint, the duo will be able to play together much as they did this year, and they project to pair with 19-year old Sean Monahan. Monahan was selected 3rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft and earned his way onto the Flames' everyday roster despite being eligible for a return to juniors with six goals in his first nine games.
With Arnold and Monahan - both six feet tall or bigger and 200 pounds - the Flames likely have the pieces to begin building a top line for the future. With Kenny Agostino playing defense this season and extra draft picks still in tow after a multitude of trades, including two second round and two third round picks as a result of trades with Colorado and Pittsburgh, they clearly intend to build around these players as their core for the future.
While Arnold never gained the attention as Gaudreau, he was one of the biggest work horses for the Eagles and will graduate as a member of the 2012 national championship team. Without him, BC couldn't have reached its heights, and he exemplifies the blue-collar mentality all hockey players should strive for. Congratulations on a great career, and best of luck in Calgary!