North American sports fans have been regaling their heroes in song and rhyme since the first pitch, the first faceoff, the first run off tackle. When I was a kid, hockey had famous lines—the GAG line, the French Connection—and before that, baseball brought us the Cubbies dynamite infield. Tinker to Evers (pronounced, I believe, Eeeevers) to Chance helped Chicago to the pennant in 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1910—the 1908 win coming via Merkle’s boner. I am watching Connor McDavid skate today, on ice located in St. Petersburg. I cannot find the words, but there is something of the magic in his ability to move on skates. If I could, I would, write a song or poem about the day McDavid became the fastest thing in St. Petersburg and the Sapsan train’s whistle blew forlorn.
In Edmonton, we like the pairs. Gretzky to Kurri, Messier and Anderson, Coffey and Huddy, Hall and Ebs, and on it goes. Connor McDavid has test driven a few options, notably Jordan Eberle, Benoit Pouliot and Patrick Maroon. I suspect more will be coming along shortly—in fact, young Drake Caggiula could be the next batter to come to the plate. He is a fascinating prospect, because there are some exceptional things about him—notably speed—and he could cash in dozens and dozens of goals as time goes by. When it was announced he signed, my first reaction was to downplay it, mostly because the Justin Schultz story turned out so poorly for all involved. I still think that is the best plan, but we cannot ignore the impressive spectacle of a young man betting on himself in this way. I am cheering for him, hope he makes it. Suspect he will be famous either way.
- Drake Caggiula: “Obviously, my goal is to make the Edmonton Oilers and play in the NHL.That’s what you grow up dreaming about—playing in the NHL. If I can’t play there right away, my goal is to have a great year in Bakersfield.” Source
- Peter Chiarelli: “He’s got a terrific skill package. He can fly. He’s five-foot-10 and 185 pounds and really strong. He’s got core strength and protects the puck very well. He’s fearless, he gets in on the forecheck. He’s got elements of his game that will allow him to play even though he’s not huge. He’s a gritty, skilled guy.” Source
You never know. We haven’t tracked this young man for four years, so maybe he was getting zoomed by his linemates and he spends very little time in the show. His one weakness—size—isn’t really a weakness at all (ask Martin St. Louis or any number of players and he isn’t 5.05 or anything). A great bet. Hope he makes it.
CHIARELLI’S FREE AGENT SIGNINGS
- May 12, 2015. Signed G Eetu Laurikainen.
- July 1, 2015. Signed D Andrej Sekera to a six-year contract
- July 1, 2015. Signed C Mark Letestu to a three-year contract.
- October 6, 2015. Signed Signed F Braden Christoffer to a three-year, entry-level contract.
- March 13, 2016. Signed LW Jere Sallinen to a one-year deal.
- April 7, 2016. Signed G Nick Ellis to an entry-level deal.
- May 7, 2016. Signed F Drake Caggiula to an entry-level deal.
Have I missed any? Guys like Talbot and Davidson were signed, but they are extensions and came via trade and the draft, respectively. Among the seven names here, I count Sekera as a real success, Letestu as a signing that can be defended, and the rest are still to be determined. Fair? I like the three bets this spring more than the Laurikainen and Christoffer bets, but it is too soon to know.
One thing I believe we can say with authority: It is hard to look at that list and argue Peter Chiarelli is obsessed with size.
Future of Travis Hamonic with New York Islanders in question https://t.co/R48WK6HbkQ
— ESPN New York (@ESPNNewYork) May 9, 2016
I am hopeful the Oilers can acquire Travis Hamonic, but am not counting on it. Many posters feel the Islanders are between a rock and a hard place, and that Garth Snow will trade his defenseman for something less than full value. I suspect Snow will be very stubborn on getting more than value and the asking price may be so high Peter Chiarelli chooses to move on and find another solution. Seriously. There is no reason for Snow to make a fair deal when he can make a better one, and the pressure does not lie with him. As summer fades and his rights remain in Brooklyn, doubt that pushes a trade. Expect an unfair deal, or no deal at all. That is my guess.
BOB GREEN’S WHITEBOARD
In February, I wrote about Bob Green’s list of players who might be available via college and the CHL—and on the weekend one of those players landed in Edmonton.
LW Dryden Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors. A strong skater having a terrific year, he is 15-8-23 in his last 10 WHL games. He is 6.01, 201 and would be a fantastic get in an area of need.
- F Drake Caggiula, University of North Dakota. Another terrific scorer (23GP, 15-15-30), he has good speed and a range of skills. 5.10, 180.
D Troy Stecher, University of North Dakota. Righthanded blue with all kinds of offense (28GP, 5-14-19) and he is an excellent skater. 5.10, 190.
- R Nick Betz, Erie Otters. This player comes via Brock Otten and his excellent OHL Prospects site, and Betz is a big power winger with average speed. What makes him interesting is size (6.04, 220) and offense (47GP, 15-24-39) that appears to be attached to net-front presence. Source
Erie’s season is over and I wonder about Nick Betz. He would be an interesting addition to the team and could develop into a solid pro. He seems to scratch an organizational itch, and may (like Caggiula) alter the final draft list.
CHIARELLI ASSET LIST
- No. 4 overall selection (looks more and more like this could be dealt)
- Benoit Pouliot (Increasingly likely)
- Jordan Eberle (Oilers can sign a replacement, but he had chem with 97)
- 2017 1st round selection (certainly in play)
- Young LHD (Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson, Griffin Reinhart) (this list may depend on the health of both Klefbom and Davidson. If one or both are not expected to be full speed by TC, this may not be an avenue)
- Nail Yakupov (if they get a reasonable offer, he is exiting the system)
- Cap space (Edmonton might be able to get a player like Bozak on the cheap because of it)
CHIARELLI SUMMER LIST
- Top-pairing D to partner with Klefbom (Travis Hamonic/Jason Demers)
- Second-pairing RHD to partner with Sekera (Tyson Barrie/Sami Vatanen)
- Acquire RHC with some skill (Small group available. Andrew Shaw? Tommy Wingels? Tyler Bozak?)
- Offload unwanted contract (Lauri Korpikoski)
- Backup goalie (Jhonas Enroth)
- Find value contracts (Davidson, Maroon, possibly Caggiula)
- Re-stock the system partly through Euro, college and CHL signings (Caggiula, but also Ellis and Sallinen)
- Build up the system (especially forwards) via draft (big summer)
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy, fun show this morning TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. Quarterfinals getting close to finding a winner, plus the coaching carousel was moving on the weekend.
- Andrew Bucholtz, 55-Yard Line. CFL draft goes tomorrow, suspect the Eskimos take someone on the defensive side of the ball.
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show. Guy has been onside with Drake Caggiula as a legit NHL prospect for some time, we will find out why.
- Brad Elliott Schlossman, Grand Fords Herald. Most of what we have been able to gather in the last 48 hours comes from Schlossman, so we will go to the source and find out about Caggiula.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Go Canada!