He scored a goal in his first NHL game, but the road to respectability has been fraught with difficulty and unexpected turns for Arnott. He was a top-rated junior out of Oshawa in the OHL, winning gold with Team Canada at the 1994 World Championships after being drafted 7th overall in 1993 by the Edmonton Oilers.
Upon arriving with the Oilers, he was seen as one of a core of young saviors ready to repeat what Gretzky, Messier, Kurri and Coffey had accomplished a decade ago. But Arnott was both inconsistent and frequently injured early in his career. One game he would show remarkable potential, the next he would play distractedly, the next he'd get a puck in the face and miss games. Oilers GM Glen Sather gave up on "Arnie," trading him to New Jersey with Bryan Muir for Valeri Zelepukin and Bill Guerin. It was a mistake.
Slowly but surely Arnott developed that extra level of intensity and consistency, and his play culminated with a trip to the 2000 Stanley Cup finals during which he scored the Cup-winning goal in overtime. That summer, his hometown, the beach called Wasaga, gave him a huge party on Jason Arnott Day. He was a hero, and the next year he continued his development as one of the best young power forwards in the game, again going to the finals before losing to Colorado in seven games.
Arnott went on to play the better part of four seasons in New Jersey, before being dealt to the Dallas Stars in the latter stages of the 2001-02 NHL season. Upon his arrival with the Stars, Arnott continued his strong play and in 2003-04 notched his sixth straight 20+ goal season.
Following career highs in goals (32), assists (44) and points (76) in the 2005-06 campaign, Arnott signed with the Nashville Predators on July 2, 2006. In his first year in Nashville, Arnott led the team in goals with 27 and was a key addition to the club's powerplay. The Predators finished the 2006-07 season in fourth place in the Western Conference with 110 points, setting a new franchise record. However the club was quickly bounced from the NHL playoffs by the San Jose Sharks for a second consecutive year. During the off-season the club's roster was decimated by trades which included the movement of captain Kimmo Timonen. Arnott, now an experienced veteran on a rather young Nashville team, was subsequently named captain.
Arnott tied his career high in assists with 44 and for the ninth straight season he posted over 20 goals in his first year as captain in Nashville. Although the team was again eliminated early from the playoffs, Arnott and the Predators had an unexpectedly strong regular season which included the emergence of netminder Dan Ellis.
On June 19, 2010, Arnott would return to his old stomping ground when he was shipped by the Predators to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for forward Matt Halischuk.
Arnott would spend less than a full season in New Jersey before being on the move again. On February 28, 2011, the NHL trade deadline, he was sent to the Washington Capitals in exchange for David Steckel and a second-round draft pick.
Arnott's time in Washington would be short-lived. In 11 regular season games he registered 7 points and he helped the club into the second round of the playoffs. In the summer of 2011, Arnott would become an unrestricted free and sign a deal with the St. Louis Blues.