The Edmonton Oilers were thrilled when they landed top NCAA free agent Drake Caggiula, and even more so when he impressed with a solid rookie campaign.
Following a strong preseason, Caggiula earned a spot on the opening night roster but had to recover from an injury to start the year. Once he returned, he transitioned easily into a full-time NHL role.
Caggiula was originally going to try and adapt to a role as a third-line centre, and though the 23-year-old wasn’t the worst in the faceoff circle, he adapted to a role on the wing and became a versatile part of the team.
In 60 regular season games with Edmonton, Caggiula scored seven goals and 18 points and was a plus-3. He improved and grew as the season went on, and made an impact in the postseason with three goals.
Though he wasn’t much of a contributor on offence, Caggiula was impressive on the backcheck. Not only was he an effective skater and a strong two-way player, but he was physical and able to match up with his opponents. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound forward racked up 97 hits and 22 takeaways and took solid care of the puck.
As he enters his sophomore year, Caggiula has the opportunity to move up the lineup and show his true potential. Here are expectations for him moving forward.
Room for Improvement
First off, Caggiula could stand improve his offensive edge. This is a simple fix; all he has to do is take more shots and have more speed moving up the ice. Caggiula was a force on the ice with Connor McDavid and showed how much energy he can have on the rush. With that being said, Caggiula should see higher totals.
He also needs to improve his accuracy; just a little over half of his shots ended up on net. If more pucks end up on goal, he will see results. In addition, by simply getting pucks on net, he will create more scoring chances.
Defensively, there is not much where Caggiula must improve. He should try to block more shots and do more to prove himself as a top-six player and special teams asset. Still, he stacks up as an impressive two-way forward.
Overall, Caggiula has a promising future and has tremendous upside. There are just a few areas he must tweak to avoid the sophomore slump and continue to move up the totem pole.