|Jamie Arniel has 69 goals and 128 points in his three-year OHL career.|
Arniel, who was rated No. 23 in Central Scouting's mid-term rankings, has suited up on a regular basis with two of the best players in the upcoming Draft.
He currently plays with Steven Stamkos, the top-rated prospect for this year's NHL Entry Draft. Before that, he played two-plus years with the Guelph Storm and Drew Doughty, who is rated second.
"It's really something special to play with the first- and second-rated players in the same season," said Arniel who added that he would have a tough time deciding between the two if he were an NHL GM. "I think if a team wants a D, they should take Doughty first overall and if they want a forward, they should take Stamkos. They are both the best at their positions and I think it's up to whatever a team wants."
Arniel may not be pegged as a top-two pick like his current and former teammates, but he plays a robust game and has a great scoring touch that is drawing attention from the scouts.
The 6-foot, 195-pound, right-shooting center has 27 goals and 47 points to go along with 38 penalty minutes in 57 games this season.
"I'm not the biggest player," Arniel said. "I'm probably average to a little bit below average. But I like to hit and I like to get into the corners. I don't think that size really matters. You have to work on your strength, balance and determination and that's what really will get you there."
After a solid rookie season with the Storm, Arniel scored 31 goals and 62 points in 68 games last season. But he had a miserable end to the year, failing to register a point in the final eight games of the regular season. He scored two goals and four points in his team's four-game playoff appearance.
Despite starting this season with nine goals and 13 points in 20 games, Arniel was traded Dec. 1 to the Sting. He said it took some time to get used to his new surroundings.
"That was pretty tough," Arniel said. "Coming in, you have to meet a whole new bunch of guys on the team. I already knew Stamkos and (Mark) Katic and they really helped me out. It's a great organization and they welcomed me with open arms and put me in a position where I can play well."
It took Arniel five games to score with his new team; but, since then, he hasn't gone more than two games without a goal. He scored his first career hat trick in a January win against the Plymouth Whalers.
Arniel quickly made a good impression on his new teammates.
"He's a pure goal scorer," said Stamkos, who leads the team with 55 goals and 98 points this season. "Whenever he gets around the net, he's going to bury the puck. He has great speed and great vision. When I saw that trade go through, I was very happy and I'm glad that he was on my team now."
Arniel grew up in Kingston, Ontario and started wearing No. 11 to honor his uncle Scott Arniel, a former NHL player with the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins and now the head coach of the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League.
|NHL bloodlines have helped make Jamie Arniel a top-end prospect. Arniel's uncle, Scott, played for three different NHL teams and now coaches in the AHL.|
"He taught me what it takes to win," Arniel said. "He told me about winning the World Junior gold. He also won the Memorial Cup in Cornwall; so he's definitely won a lot of things. Hopefully, I can follow in his footsteps and have a good career just like he did."
Arniel said that his dad and uncle were both instrumental in his hockey career, especially as a youngster in Kingston.
"I started when I was four years old," Arniel said. "My dad was really into hockey. I went to a learn-to-skate program when I was three and I actually didn't like it too much. But when I started to play hockey, I really loved it."
With the regular season winding down and the playoff races starting to heat up, Arniel knows that this is a great time for him to step up his game and show the scouts that he is the kind of player that will make an impact in the NHL.
He said that he hasn't been paying much attention to the draft rankings this year. The way he sees it, the draft is the start of a long process.
"Being drafted is just the first step," Arniel said. "You've got to play hard and you've got to impress the team to get a spot on the roster. Basically if you get drafted, it just means that you've got a shot. You just have to work at getting the opportunity to play."