Overall, it was a good first season here in Stockton. We would have loved to make the playoffs, but we have some stuff to work on going forward and hopefully we can come back and have a better season next year. - Bill Arnold
Bill Arnold is knocking on the Calgary Flames door.
He’s downright pounding on it in fact.
The 23-year-old centre – Calgary’s 2010 fourth round (108th overall) selection – has only one game of NHL experience under his belt, which came back on April 13, 2014.
One night that feels like forever ago.
To say the Needham, Massachusetts native is hungry for another shot at the bigs would be an understatement.
“I just want to take that next step,” a chomping at the bit Arnold said.
A proven trustworthy forward, who can be utilized on all four lines, Arnold has been best described as a jack-of-all-trades who can either play a shutdown role or chip in offensively when called upon.
After four successful years at Boston College, which included capturing the 2012 National Championship with close friend, former linemate and Flames leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau, Arnold has recorded 24 goals and 60 points in 113 games over his first two seasons with the Flames’ AHL affiliate.
Respectable numbers to say the least.
It’s his play without the puck, however, that has the 6-foot, 195-pound Stockton Heat forward confident with his development and growth at the pro level.
“Defensively and on the penalty kill, I was effective this season by blocking shots and bringing the work ethic that a team needs every night,” Arnold said. “Overall, it was a good first season here in Stockton. We would have loved to make the playoffs, but we have some stuff to work on going forward and hopefully we can come back and have a better season next year.”
An injury-free season at that.
Limited to 61 games due to a shoulder injury in his first professional campaign, Arnold’s second go-round involved being shelved with a torn MCL for six weeks through January and into February.
Though the versatile pivot says he was back feeling 100 percent by the end of the season, his main focus this summer will be regaining his leg power.
“It was tough coming back, so I’ll be focusing on my quickness this off-season,” he said. “It took me a couple weeks to get my stride and my jump back, but it is all part of the game and you have to learn how to deal with it.”
The Flames prospect will also have to handle becoming a pending restricted free agent this summer.
But he’s not alone.
Far from it.
In addition to Arnold, the Flames’ lengthy RFA list is comprised of goaltenders Joni Ortio and Kevin Poulin, forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Joe Colborne, Bryce Van Brabant, Kenny Agostino, Turner Elson, Freddie Hamilton, Josh Jooris, Drew Shore, and defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon.
Difficult decisions indeed.
“There are a lot of quality individuals that are on that list,” said Heat head coach Ryan Huska. “It’ll make for some interesting meetings, some tough decisions. That’s the way the sport works. You have to find a way to get the best players in your organization that will give people a chance to win in both areas, whether that’s in Calgary or whether that’s down here in Stockton.
“The great part of our affiliation or our relationship with Calgary,” added the second-year AHL bench boss, “is they really value opinions. They really value our feedback. We have meetings now that are ongoing and we can give our opinion on certain players. At the end of the day it’s up to Calgary with what they want to do with certain players. There are a lot of different individuals who can push for spots and be more regular players here but also guys that can push for spots up top.”
As strenuous as negotiations can sometimes be, Arnold says he’s not about to lose any sleep over his contract situation.
“Qualifying offers usually don’t go out until around the draft, so there’s plenty of time to deal with that,” he said. “It will get sorted out between my agent and the Flames over the next couple weeks or months.
“It’s a great organization and a great place to be so we’ll just have to see what happens next.”