August 15, 2014

Original 6: New Englanders, new deals

For these six New Englanders, 2014-15 will be a season of something new. Clockwise from top left, Marc Arcobello, Brian Gibbons, Nick Bonino, Mike Mottau, Ben Smith, and John McCarthy. (Photos/Getty Images)

By Joshua Kummins

A lot goes on in the hockey world from the start of training camps in September until the crowning of a Stanley Cup champion in June, and that sure rang true for New Englanders in 2013-14. Boston College returned to the Frozen Four, the Bruins were Presidents’ Trophy winners and one of our own — Jonathan Quick — returned to the winner’s circle. For these half-dozen players with New England ties, the 2014-15 season brings a new uniform, or a new contract situation, or yet another season of promise. 

1. Mark Arcobello | Paid for performance

Arcobello opened the season with the Edmonton Oilers and didn’t waste any time by scoring his first professional point, doing so in just his second NHL game. The Milford, Conn., native hit the halfway mark of the season with the big club, scoring four goals and 18 points in 41 contests after having played just one prior to the start of 2013-14. He kept the same form over 10 games in the AHL, scoring an even goal per game and totaling 28 points. The Yale University product’s strong season at both levels, including his first extended action in the NHL, earned him a contract extension with Edmonton, where he will now remain for an additional year.

2. Brian Gibbons | Columbus bound

The Braintree, Mass., native made his NHL debut this season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, appearing in 49 games between the regular season and playoffs, and he made an impression on the Columbus Blue Jackets during their head-to-head playoff series. Gibbons became a free agent on July 1 but wasn’t without a home for too long as Columbus inked him to a one-way, two-year deal three days later. The Blue Jackets offered the Boston College product a shot at regular playing time from the start after he was not re-signed by the Penguins.

3. Nick Bonino | Old face, new place

Entering the 2013-14 season, Bonino had never played in more than 50 NHL games in a season for the Anaheim Ducks. But that changed fast. The BU product from Unionville, Conn., skated in 77 regular-season contests and 13 more in the postseason, totaling 26 goals and 57 points. His stellar season boosted his résumé and dressed him in new colors for the upcoming campaign, as he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks along with teammate Luca Sbisa for leading scorer Ryan Kesler in a June 27 deal that also included three draft picks. The speedy, skilled Bonino will be a perfect addition to the Vancouver lineup and a strong replacement in Kesler’s spot as the second-line center.

4. John McCarthy | Staying power

The Andover, Mass., native, 27, is the epitome of a captain. McCarthy spent three full seasons with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks from 2009-14. The gritty forward from St. John’s Prep and Boston University scored his first NHL goal in two seasons back in February. That was his lone tally in 36 games with San Jose this year. He notched seven points in 13 games with Worcester this season and is one of the AHL squad’s historical ironmen, having scored 54 goals in 242 career games. For the first time in his career, McCarthy will put on a new uniform in 2014-15, as he signed a one-year, two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues on July 4.

5 Ben Smith | Sticking with Hawks

Smith, who won a Stanley Cup championship with Chicago in 2013, is sticking in the Windy City. Raised in Avon, Conn., Smith signed a two-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $1.5 million on June 27, keeping him from taking restricted free agent status, as would have been the case come July 1. The former Boston College forward was a regular in the Blackhawks lineup, skating in 75 regular-season games and chipping in 14 goals and 26 points before scoring four times in 19 playoff contests. In the 2013 playoffs, Smith saw action in just one game for the Blackhawks, but spent much of that season and the one prior with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs before cracking the NHL roster for regular time in 2013-14.

6 Mike Mottau | Still available

Mottau, an Avon, Mass., native, played for his sixth NHL team this past season as he skated in eight games for the Florida Panthers but spent much of the season on the mend from a lower-body injury suffered just after Thanksgiving. He concluded the season by posting eight assists over the final 16 games for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage and remains a free agent for 2014-15. The elder statesman has played in just 14 NHL games over the past three campaigns but is out to battle the injuries he has suffered and try to compete at the highest level at age 36.      

This article originally appeared in the August edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to read the digital edition for free.