Peter Chiarelli’s signing of college players this past spring and summer impacted the Oilers prospect list in a big way. Drake Caggiula is the first of these college men, ranked at No. 3 overall for his offensive potential and agitating style. There is no guarantee he will prove to be more valuable than Matt Benning or Nick Ellis, but his outer marker potential makes him the most valuable prospect of the three.
PREVIOUSLY NO. 3 ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2005: G Devan Dubnyk
- December 2006: C Marc-Antoine Pouliot
- December 2007: D Tom Gilbert
- December 2008: D Theo Peckham
- December 2009: C Riley Nash
- December 2010: L Magnus Paajarvi
- December 2011: D Oscar Klefbom
- December 2012: D Oscar Klefbom
- December 2013: C Marco Roy
- December 2014: D Oscar Klefbom
- December 2015: D Darnell Nurse
I would list MAP, Theo Peckham and Marco Roy as the only clear misses, with Riley Nash and Magnus Paajarvi ranking as less than hoped. Devan Dubnyk and Tom Gilbert were clear hits and the young blue (Klefbom, Nurse) are trending well.
WHAT THEY SAID ON SIGNING DAY
- 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.”
- Chris Dilks about Caggiula: Caggiula is a smaller forward, but plays with tremendous effort and grit. He makes life miserable for the opposition on the forecheck and plays a strong two-way game. He’s having a sensational senior season as a linemate of first round NHL picks Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz. It’s unlikely he is the same type of scorer at the next level, but would make an outstanding bottom six energy player. Source
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show: I’m a fan of Caggiula. I have been pumping his tires for two years. My expectation is Matt Read-like production with more tenacity and skill. Source
- NHLE from final college season: 82gp, 22-22-44.
- He was ranked No. 185 NA skater in 2012, and of course no one took him. He was scoring at a very rapid clip in the OJHL that season, plus a cup of coffee in the USHL. Since then, Caggiula has emerged as a fast, skilled and famous college scorer.
- Thomas Drance wrote a dandy item on Caggiula in the hours both Edmonton and Vancouver were in the running.
- Philadelphia Flyers Coach Dave Hakstol: “He’ll play a game in the NHL, there’s no doubt of that in my mind. When it happens or what he does with it once he gets there, that will be up to him. He’ll have to prove he can handle the step up in pace. NHL players are so big but they’re also so fast. I think he can do it. Drake is not big but he’s hockey strong. He competes hard, too hard sometimes. He hits with a purpose, loves to really hit people, but he’s a veteran and we need him to be scoring goals. He plays the game hard. He plays the 200-foot game. You can tell he’s a coach’s son, he gets it.” Source
DRAKE CAGGIULA COLLEGE BOXCARS AND NHLE’S
- Age 18 (UND NCAA) 39, 8-8-16 (NHLE: 14)
- Age 19 (UND NCAA) 42, 11-13-24 (NHLE: 19)
- Age 20 (UND NCAA) 42, 18-18-36 (NHLE: 29)
- Age 21 (UND NCAA) 39, 25-26-51 (NHLE: 44)
- Bob McKenzie, September 2016: “I know the #Oilers are expecting him to contend for one of the 13 forward spots on their team. “I think they think highly of him and they want to give him every opportunity to try and make the team.” Source
- Peter Chiarelli: “It is a flip of the coin, it’s like a draft pick (after Round 1). Wouldn’t surprise me if he made the team, with the elements he brings. 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 who’s played big in big games.” Source
- Drake Caggiula on signing with Edmonton: “They have a core group of players who are talented and highly skilled. I hope to step up and grow with that core. My talk with Todd McLellan (Oilers’ head coach) went great. I like his style of player and it suits me well and my coaches at North Dakota also know Todd and they said he was good.” Source
- Game Notes, Penticton game v. Canucks: C Drake Caggiula—0-1-1, +2 and one shot. He didn’t get rewarded for a lot of good play imo. He checks up at the blueline a lot (remember Ralph Intranuovo?) and has an idea about how to get good looks in the offensive zone. I liked him, he would be my No. 5 star. Source
- Lowetide, September 29: Drake Caggiula had another good game, four shots and two goals, along with a nice possession number. He was also 50 percent on the dot. I don’t know if he is the 3C or 3L or AHL forward, but he has talent and the arrows are all headed in a good direction. Source
- Caggiula talks of the injury that robbed him of an opening night spot: “It’s a little frustrating. You work so hard all summer long and all of last season to set yourself up and put yourself into a situation to make the opening night roster … I did a good job of that and unfortunately I got a little bit banged up.” Source
- Summer 2016: No. 5
- Winter 2016: No. 3
Caggiula is not a player we have tracked since his draft year (2012), so slotting him on this list is a challenge. I chose to put the small forward here because of the offensive potential—something he showed us during preseason (5gp, 2-0-2 with 16 shots). I am absolutely uncertain he can survive in the NHL playing his style at his size, but if he can stay healthy the numbers suggest offense will follow him.
In choosing Caggiula (and Benson) ahead of some two-way forwards and several defensemen who are substantial prospects, I am betting both men will bring some range to their game—with enough offense to play inside the top 9F. Caggiula has a gigantic opportunity here, my guess he makes it if he can stay healthy.
Caggiula is edging closer to being game ready, and a trip to Bakersfield is likely the first step once he is activated. He should be able to flourish at that level and I can see him being a part of this Oilers team by Christmas.
Where will he play? It will be an interesting decision for coach Todd McLellan. The idea of putting Caggiula between two veteran wingers (like Patrick Maroon and Zack Kassian) has appeal, but it is also possible the young college grad finds chem with one of the team’s quality centers.
I am looking forward to his progress. He could be a small m Marchand in Chiarelli’s Bruinization of the Edmonton Oilers.
THE 2012 DRAFT
- Nail Yakupov, No. 1 overall. He never got established in Edmonton, now plying his trade for the St. Louis Blues. We wish him the best, and I hope he scores 30. Graduated to the NHL.
- Griffin Reinhart, No. 4 overall. The Oilers always liked his size and defensive acumen, and paid an enormous price for him. Injured currently, it would benefit the organization if he posted a strong season in 2016-17. Ranked inside the Top 20.
- Mitch Moroz, No. 32 overall. Has shown increased early season scoring ability (8gp, 1-2-3) and this is a very important year for him. Candidate for the Top 20.
- Jujhar Khaira, No. 63 overall. A strong season last year got him some NHL time and he is very close to the NHL at this time (despite current injury). Khaira is one of the success stories for Edmonton from this draft. Ranked inside the Top 20.
- Daniil Zharkov, No. 91 overall. Injured during a tryout with the AHL team last fall, he is back in the KHL now and healthy. No longer in the organization.
- Erik Gustafsson, No. 93 overall. Productive defender in Europe, Oilers passed on opportunity to sign him. Signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and played well for them in 2015-16. Currently in the AHL (Chicago). No longer in the organization.
- Joey Laleggia, No. 123 overall. Undersized puck mover has offense and he has chaos. Remains an extreme long shot for NHL success. He is 8gp, 0-2-2 in Bakersfield so far this season. A candidate for the Top 20.
- John McCarron, No. 153 overall. Didn’t sign after college, now in the ECHL. No longer part of the organization.
- Drake Caggiula, not drafted. Passed through the 2012 entry draft, Edmonton signing him during the signing season this year. Considering the investment cost of Yakupov and Reinhart, there is a good chance the Chiarelli signing represents Edmonton’s best value from 2012 draft eligible players. Miles to go. No. 3 prospect.