RE16-17 DRAKE CAGGIULA: A WOLF AT THE DOOR

The Edmonton Oilers signed Drake Caggiula during the college free-agent window, and he was found money. Although he entered camp chasing a job (injury issue), the young man would spend no time in the AHL during his rookie pro season. The college forward played at center and seemed to have some trouble putting it all together. A move to wing increased his time with the puck, but golden chances leaked wide and were never recorded. After his first season in the NHL, there are more questions than answers about Drake Caggiula. (A Wolf at the Door).

DRAKE CAGGIULA 2016-17

  • 5×5 points per 60: 1.04 (11th among regular forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 4.25 (5th among regular forwards)
  • Corsi for 5×5 %: 47.8
  • Corsi Rel 5×5 %: -2.0
  • DFF Elite 5×5 %: 38.7
  • DFF Elite Rel 5×5 %: -10.6 (23 percent of TOI v. elites)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 93 shots/7.5%
  • Boxcars: 60gp, 7-11-18
  • (All numbers via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference)
  • Special thanks to GMoney and Woodguy for sharing the DFF’s

REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS

  • RE 16-17: 25gp, 3-1-4 0.16
  • Actual 16-17: 60gp, 7-11-18 0.30
  • Source
  1. What were were talking about before the season? We didn’t know what kind of bat Caggiula would bring. Flyers GM Ron Hextall:  “He’s got speed, he plays hard, he has a lot of good attributes.  He’s got a shot at being a top six (player) based on his ability. He’s not the biggest player, but he plays hard.”
  2. And how do you feel about him now? About the same.
  3. You don’t seem impressed. I like his game but don’t know if he is going to score enough. This will be a theme as we get to the young forwards not named McDavid and Draisaitl, but I don’t know if he can be counted on to score in the NHL.
  4. What did he do well offensively? He closed well, going 3-3-6 in his last nine regular season games. That’s a positive.
  5. What is troubling to you about the offense? His 5×5/60 (1.04) ranks No. 299 among 354 NHL forwards who played 500 or more minutes. He was scoring at about the same rate as Tommy Wingels, Torrey Mitchell and Chris VandeVelde. That isn’t a strong position.
  6. Who did he play most with? He spent 202 minutes with Anton Slepyshev (posting only an assist) and 152 minutes with Benoit Pouliot (also one assist but a stronger 5×5 possession number). Source
  7. Who did he play best with? McDavid, but you could say that about everybody. DG scored 1-2-3 in 67 minutes with 97, that’s going to get him more looks next season. He was 2-1-3 with Leon (probably some overlap there) and had two points in about an hour with both Nuge and Eberle.
  8. Sounds like he scored well with skill? On top lines, in a complementary role, he did deliver offense. It’s also true he was more productive later in the year, when he was playing wing more often and became healthy. Those are factors too.
  9. So maybe he’s more productive than that 5×5 number suggests? Could be. We have to have more track.
  10. What does he need? To find a way to secure playing time with McDavid at 5×5. Again, you could say that about Jesse Puljujarvi and all the other young wingers lining up to replace Leon Draisaitl (should he move to center).
  11. He was effective on the power play? Yes. I’m not sure he’s going to replace any of the men on the 1PP but he was productive.
  12. Play a lot on PK? Yes. He played less than 50 minutes total, but Caggiula’s shots-against per 60 was solid and perhaps that’s something he can continue. He was on the ice with McDavid and that has to help. Dangerous for opponents too, they had several fantastic 4×5 looks.
  13. Will he be a fringe player? I don’t think so, we’re just figuring out how high in the order he will bat is all. Top 6F? I’d say Top 9F.
  14. Where do you project him? On Left Wing, with Jesse Puljujarvi on right side and possibly Anton Slepyshev playing both wings. That said, if the spot beside McDavid opens up he is absolutely in the mix.
  15. What does Caggiula need to work on in order to establish himself? Smaller men must post big boxcars to grab top 6F jobs, so that is probably the real answer to this question.
  16. What could shorten his Oilers career? Small forwards come in boxes of 12. Spencer Foo could be here by training camp in the fall and that would impact his at-bats.
  17. Who is his competition? I see Caggiula as a candidate for 3L, meaning his competition is Benoit Pouliot and that problem may be bought out. If that occurs, Caggiula’s path to an NHL top 9F role gets far easier.
  18. Can he do that job? I would keep Pouliot for one more year, for several reasons. That said, the Oilers are going to make moves this summer so it’s very possible.
  19. What about RW? Mighty crowded, and we’ll cover it next week when we discuss Jesse Puljujarvi and Anton Slepyshev. My feeling is that Caggiula’s RW deployment will be with McDavid, but he’s less likely to be 2R or 3R.
  20. Could Caggiula win and keep the 1R job next to McDavid? I think the answer is no, but they do have some chem. A lot of this has to do with luck, I think, even though that’s a terrible answer and sounds like a cop out.
  21. Why is it luck? I think lots of wingers could have success with Connor McDavid. The trick is to be there when the opportunity arises.
  22. What will he be? As I said, Top 9F is my guess. His comparables (rookie forwards, 22, 1999-2017 as rookies, sorted by points-per-game) are Daniel Winnik, Tobias Rieder, Marcel Goc. These are useful role players but they are not bona fide offensive options. Then again, put Tobias Rieder with Connor McDavid and they’d score a bunch on the PK.
  23. What does Caggiula have to recommend him? He has speed, a good shot (missed a ton of 10-bell chances, though) and he isn’t expensive. Caggiula’s utility on special teams is likely a big advantage for the coach when imaging the roster and Chiarlli brought him in so there’s another friendly smile in the front office.
  24. Will he make it? Stay tuned!
  25. Will he make it? Caggiula will never get a better chance. He won’t improve as much as Puljujarvi (age) but if he can cash more of those ridiculous chances it’s likely he settles in for a run of several seasons. His boxcars don’t scream offensive dynamo but he was injured for some of the year, trying to play center, and lined up with other complementary players. When he got an opportunity to play with real skill, Caggiula got noticed.
  26. Why this song? Ten years from now, we may look back on this moment and wonder why we couldn’t see how obvious Caggiula was as the best option. The problem with being on this side of history is that the same thing can be applied to Jesse Puljujarvi and Anton Slepyshev. Perhaps more so.

 

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33 Responses to "RE16-17 DRAKE CAGGIULA: A WOLF AT THE DOOR"

  1. MacT's Neglected Helmet says:

    I like his tenacity. Scored a few goals in the playoffs. But probably doesn’t bring enough offence/finish to become a reliable top-6’er. Also has a penchant for taking dumb penalties if my memory serves me right (it might not).

    Still… he was a rookie and starting your NHL career off the Injured Reserve (playing center!) can’t be easy. So maybe he makes a big leap next year. The very fact that he’s in the conversation for playing with McDavid indicates that this was a SOLID signing by Chia (and yes 97 can make lots of players look good but still).

  2. Professor Q says:

    I love how when TSN is discussing the refs making controversial miscalls that cost games, in reference to the Subban goal, they showed 4-5 Ducks instances against Oilers.

    Absolutely love it.

    *goes to corner of bar and sobs*

    At least Caggiula had a good playoffs! Hopefully improving this Summer and next season.

  3. Glass says:

    MacT’s Neglected Helmet,

    The tenacity is a big thing for me. We need more guys like that. Pitlick brings it, and if Gambardella makes it to NHL, he’d bring tenacity as well.

    I’d be happy with Caggiula as a 3rd liner, and the fact that he & McDavid have chemistry is a big plus.

  4. DBO says:

    Caggiula is kinda the Pisani LT has been looking for. Funny enough so is Kassian. I guess do they fill the 3LW/3RW spots around Nuge? Or do they slide up and down based on matchup. Either works, and with McClellan liking his centre/winger combo’s, Caggiula seems like a lock for the top 9 for a while, especially in the cap conscious years ahead.

    But a 3rd line of Caggiula-Nuge-Kassian seems like a solid line that can skate, agitate and play defense while having the ability to deliver some offense. Slepeshev can slide up for Kassian if needed, but it’s a nice option to have. I am actually happy with our forwards next year, especially if Puljujarvi can earn a spot in the top 6 and we keep Eberle.

    Can they do the umpossible and not lose a forward but still add a 2RD with offense??

  5. JDI says:

    Glass: he & McDavid have chemistry

    Strange. His major was kinesiology, not chemistry.

  6. buck yoakam says:

    JDI: Strange. His major was kinesiology, not chemistry.

  7. delooper says:

    Is there any player that does not have chemistry with McDavid? Whether or not a player does well with McDavid shouldn’t be the bar. The bar should be a) how much better is McDavid with that player than with others and b) does this player score like a bat-out-of-hell, near the top of the league, when he is with McDavid?

  8. buck yoakam says:

    I would love to see nuge with mcdavid and kassian…..maybe early in the season to check chemistry….but man…that could be a scary line…brains, two centers and balls….

  9. Nuclear leak says:

    Playoff run took a lot out of the community

    Still think this guy is today’s age Liam Reddox. Fuck you MacT

    Hey woodguy, St. Eakins sucks. Dare you to not respond now! Bahahaha.

  10. godot10 says:

    1) Caggiula is not a likely winger for McDavid because they are both weak defensively. He isn’t Tikkanen. McDavid needs a Tikkanen.

    2) The Oilers SHOULD want a flat cap this year, as a guarantee the cap will increase next year, when they really need it. A flat cap helps depress McDavid’s and Draisaitl’s “number”.

    3) There are older left shot D who should be available on 1-year stop-gaps…Hainsey, Streit. Expiring contracts like Chara.

    4) Signing Russell for more than one year is a mistake. Look at Anaheim’s and Nashville’s defense. Chiarelli has to aim higher.

    5) One could see…
    Nurse-Larson
    Klefbom-Benning
    XXX-YYY
    Reinhart.

  11. JDI says:

    delooper: Is there any player that does not have chemistry with McDavid?

    Not any more. He was traded for Larsson.

  12. Kinger_Oil.redux says:

    – Great post LT! Again, listening to Radiohead, is reminder of how good they are musically, but they just are too depressing for me to crank up.

    – This is a good piece on Cags. It gets to the core of what this team is going to be when they win cups. If say Caggulia and Sheppy are next years 3rd line wingers (so not huge offense, but effective, hard working: better than grinders: who is their ideal C from a style and type of play?

    – Is RNH optimal as the fit as this type of 3C? I really don’t know the answer

    – Unless Cags has another 5×5 gear he won’t last in top-9 either, as LT alludes to

  13. Professor Q says:

    delooper:
    Is there any player that does not have chemistry with McDavid?Whether or not a player does well with McDavid shouldn’t be the bar.The bar should be a) how much better is McDavid with that player than with others and b) does this player score like a bat-out-of-hell, near the top of the league, when he is with McDavid?

    Taylor Hall.

  14. Nuclear leak says:

    Professor Q: Taylor Hall.

    To be fair they were given about 7 games of leash

  15. Psyche says:

    Pierre LeBrun had an informative interview with Chiarelli today. It’s on the TSN site if you’re interested.

    Chiarelli commented that he “has a year to play” with cap space.

    He positive on Eberle, which indicates to me that he values him on the roster or he is reinforcing his value to any potential trade suitors.

    Chiarelli also inferred that the draft depth where the Oilers pick is similar to the talent in the early 2nd round. Opening up the possibility to trade back for the right value, assuming a player of interest hasn’t dropped to them.

  16. theDjdj says:

    godot10:
    1) Caggiula is not a likely winger for McDavid because they are both weak defensively.He isn’t Tikkanen.McDavid needs a Tikkanen.

    2) The Oilers SHOULD want a flat cap this year, as a guarantee the cap will increase next year, when they really need it.A flat cap helps depress McDavid’s and Draisaitl’s “number”.

    3) There are older left shot D who should be available on1-year stop-gaps…Hainsey, Streit.Expiring contracts like Chara.

    4)Signing Russell for more than one year is a mistake.Look at Anaheim’s and Nashville’s defense.Chiarelli has to aim higher.

    5) One could see…
    Nurse-Larson
    Klefbom-Benning
    XXX-YYY
    Reinhart.

    You think McDavid is weak defensively?

  17. godot10 says:

    theDjdj: You think McDavid is weak defensively?

    For McDavid, weak was too strong….mediocre…he is mediocre defensively, on his way to getting better. Caggiula is weak defensively. The line will get taken advantage of if you play them together.

  18. Diablo says:

    Psyche:
    Pierre LeBrun had an informative interview with Chiarelli today. It’s on the TSN site if you’re interested.

    Chiarelli commented that he “has a year to play” with cap space.

    He positive on Eberle, which indicates to me that he values him on the roster or he is reinforcing his value to any potential trade suitors.

    Chiarelli also inferred that the draft depth where the Oilers pick is similar to the talent in the early 2nd round. Opening up the possibility to trade back for the right value, assuming a player of interest hasn’t dropped to them.

    Really good interview – I agree – Chia did a great job talking up Ebs – “lot’s of touches”.

    Some other tidbits….
    They “really like” Russell but have told him that he needs to wait his turn, as McDavid and Draisaitl take priority – and for those of you who always think the sky is falling, note that he never said they made Russell any promises or guarantees.

    Regarding expansion – he’s not “jockeying”, though he’s had discussion with LV, and there are “some irons in the fire”. Even made sure to say how much he admires McPhee.

    Lol – he says so much and yet reveals so little!

    Also, for a media personality, Lebrun sure stammers a lot.

  19. Diablo says:

    godot10: For McDavid, weak was too strong….mediocre…he is mediocre defensively, on his way to getting better.Caggiula is weak defensively.The line will get taken advantage of if you play them together.

    Mediocre is about right – particularly in playoffs, his defensive game was exposed.

    He prefers to play a sort of zone D, and rarely engages physically man-on-man to take away space, which is fine in the regular season, but doesn’t cut it in the playoffs. He’s part of the reason why his line kept getting hemmed in their own zone for long stretches.

    And this is why I don’t get some of the absurd contract numbers being thrown around – right now he’s closer to Ovie – a dynamic offensive presence who gets exposed by the leagues elite forwards on D – than he is to Crosby – a dominant presence who owns every inch of the ice.

    So why should he make more than Sid?

    If he’s giving up some UFA years, then fine. But I really doubt either Chia or Katz hands him a blank check on a 5 year pact.

  20. Alsker says:

    Sorry for going off topic but with Scott Stevens leaving the Wild today to spend time with his family, is there any Oiler D prospect(Nurse, Reinhart, Jones, Bear, etc.) that a hot poker/whip/psychopath(psychologist)could be turned into a seriously scary nuclear deterrent like Stevens was???? Playing with an edge(or totally illegal)seems all good to NHL brass. We all thought this went the day of the dinosaur back with moose Dupont of the Flyers but along came Stevens+Marchmant+etc…..Dog days of summer + too many Buds leads to such thoughts….

  21. Centre of attention says:

    I kinda feel like Todd Marchant is a good comparable pro-wise to Caggulia. Small. Fast. Quick wrist shot that doesn’t always find the mark. I could see Drake scoring 14 goals on an average season but rises to the occasion when it matters just like Marchant. Might have a 20 goal, 60 point season as a high water mark somewhere down the line.

  22. Centre of attention says:

    Psyche,

    That’s not the first time he’s said perhaps he’d look to trade down. He did an interview with Bob where he said perhaps he would look at moving down.

    Might be why guys like Isaac Ratcliffe are on the Oilers website prospect series. Guys like that definitely make more sense in the 30-38 range where the Oilers are hypothetically trading down to.

    I personally wouldn’t be opposed to trading down at all.

  23. Diablo says:

    Centre of attention:
    Psyche,

    That’s not the first time he’s said perhaps he’d look to trade down. He did an interview with Bob where he said perhaps he would look at moving down.

    Might be why guys like Isaac Ratcliffe are on the Oilers website prospect series. Guys like that definitely make more sense in the 30-38 range where the Oilers are hypothetically trading down to.

    I personally wouldn’t be opposed to trading down at all.

    Yeah – same here.

    There’s an unspoken question though (that LeBrun should have jumped on) – is Chia trading down to:
    1) get more lottery tickets?
    2) move an unpalatable salary (Fayne or Pouliot)?
    3) Upgrade RHD or 3C (likely in a package with other assets)?

    I’d only trade down for the 2nd and 3rd options, otherwise you might as well stay where you are and pick the player the scouts tell you to pick.

  24. Diablo says:

    Centre of attention:
    I kinda feel like Todd Marchant is a good comparable pro-wise to Caggulia. Small. Fast. Quick wrist shot that doesn’t always find the mark. I could see Drake scoring 14 goals on an average season but rises to the occasion when it matters just like Marchant. Might have a 20 goal, 60 point season as a high water mark somewhere down the line.

    I think you’ve hit the mark with comparison.

  25. Diablo says:

    Alsker:
    Sorry for going off topic but with Scott Stevens leaving the Wild today to spend time with his family,is there any Oiler D prospect(Nurse, Reinhart, Jones, Bear, etc.) that a hot poker/whip/psychopath(psychologist)could be turned into a seriously scary nuclear deterrent likeStevens was????Playing with an edge(or totally illegal)seems all good to NHL brass.We all thought this went the day of the dinosaur back with moose Dupont of the Flyers but along came Stevens+Marchmant+etc…..Dog days of summer + too many Buds leads to such thoughts….

    Steven’s was just a tremendous D-man. But he also had superb offence before he got to New Jersey (after which he committed fully and completely to playing the trap). While many of his biggest hits would be illegal in today’s game – even with the inconsistent officiating – he was such a smart player that he would have adjusted and probably have been just as devastating.

    Ironically (or not) the closest D-man on the Oilers to playing his style is his former disciple – Larsson really is a punishing hitter and sometimes just a bit dirty too.

  26. dustrock says:

    Caligula can’t play C. That’s a non-starter. College guys sometimes have trouble playing 82 games, and the injury didn’t help.

    He’s no great solution to any problems but I think he can be a decent roster player. He’s Versteeg in some ways.

  27. jtblack says:

    theDjdj,

    Thats ok if McD isnt the best at D. Cant please all ppl. Gretz was not the best Defensively. I Will take either, anyday, all day

  28. jtblack says:

    Diablo,

    I agree with you Both!

  29. Professor Q says:

    Diablo,

    However, 3 of his highest scoring totals were from his first 3 years in New Jersey. Then the shift down.

    I had no idea he was such an offensive powerhouse! Reverse Burns Trend?

    I do imagine that Washington missed him in those Finals.

  30. Diablo says:

    Professor Q:
    Diablo,

    However, 3 of his highest scoring totals were from his first 3 years in New Jersey. Then the shift down.

    I had no idea he was such an offensive powerhouse! Reverse Burns Trend?

    I do imagine that Washington missed him in those Finals.

    Yeah I forgot that – you’re right. What a dynamite D-man.

  31. MacT's Neglected Helmet says:

    dustrock: He’s Versteeg in some ways.

    That’s an apt comparable. Versteeg is better though. He had a good year. It’s too bad he bolted to Calgary. I don’t think he would’ve made a huge difference if he stayed with the Oilers but you never know. I wonder if Chia pursues him this summer.

  32. russ99 says:

    IMO Caggiula could lock down a role on the team for years, if he can start burying those chances.

    Nothing a summer of working out, a heavier stick and shooting the puck a few thousand times won’t fix.

    There’s a remote possibility he could stick at bottom 6 center if the shooting doesn’t work out and he can add faceoff ability, there’s a lot of jam to his game, he plays smart without the puck and has speed to burn, remind me of Todd Marchant in a lot of ways.

  33. russ99 says:

    Professor Q: Taylor Hall.

    Not really, both of them wanted the puck, and I don’t remember Hall cashing on a lot of assists from McDavid, but Connor did miss a large portion of the season.

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