The Edmonton Oilers are looking for players to step up and prove their worth, and even have some vacancies up for grabs.
One big spot available is on the second line RW, likely alongside Milan Lucic and Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers have a lot of candidates, but so far, it looks like Drake Caggiula is leading the charge for that role.
Perhaps one of the biggest NCAA free agents of 2016, the 23-year-old has had a lot to offer the Oilers. Last season, he showed a lot of potential as their third-line centre, but then showed a lot more success as a winger. Now, with Edmonton needing sharp-shooting right-wingers on the top six, he is ready to adapt his game and fill that role.
Due to an early injury following a strong preseason, Caggiula played just 60 games with Edmonton, registering seven goals and 18 points. However, in the postseason, he had three goals and showed a lot of ability on the wing, as well as great chemistry alongside Connor McDavid.
Looking at his overall game, it is easy to see how he is able to excel on the right side. He is a great skater and shows outstanding speed, and also has sharp hockey sense and stickhandling ability. In addition, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound forward can play a strong, physical two-way game and is a player who can step up and work well under pressure.
Still, when it comes to transitioning into a role on the wing, especially the top six, the Oilers will need more from him. He needs to take his time in the offensive zone and get his shots on net; a little over 50 percent of his total attempted shots actually made it on net this past season. He shouldn’t feel rushed and should be more confident with the puck, as he has the speed and mind to have more time with the puck.
Overall, Caggiula is getting closer to top six and he could be a game-changer for Edmonton this season. From the looks of him so far, it is fair to expect higher totals heading into 2017-18.