The Edmonton Oilers exhibition schedule is underway, and of course we are putting Drake Caggiula in the Hall of Fame and mad as hell at those lollygagging veterans. We all understand there are many miles to go in the pre-season, but Caggiula is doing some things to get noticed. Chief among them: Shooting the puck!

I will tell you one of my least favorite things to do is sit next to some yahoo who screams ‘shoot!’ at a hockey game. Having said that, shooting the puck is a great way for a young prospect to get noticed and Drake Caggiula is absolutely having an impact in this area. Question: Does it mean anything?

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2015-16 Pre-season Shots On Goal Leaders

  1. Alex Ovechkin, WAS 26 shots in 5 games
  2. Jeff Skinner, CAR 21 shots in 5 games
  3. Brent Burns, SJS 20 shots in 4 games
  4. Matt Irwin, BOS 20 shots in 4 games
  5. Michael Mersch, LAK 20 shots in 6 games
  6. Beau Bennett, PIT 19 shots in 4 games
  7. Wayne Simmonds, PHI 19 shots in 5 games
  8. James van Riemsdyk TOR 19 shots in 5 games
  9. Daniel Sprong PIT 18 shots in 5 games
  10. Source

Mersch had a helluva run, but he played in only 17 NHL games last season, getting a callup in December. Daniel Sprong was a flat out rookie and he had a strong run during the 2015 pre-season, and actually hung around for 18 games before heading back to junior.

    2016-17 Pre-Season Shots on Goals Leaders

    1. Kevin Gravel, LAK 10 shots in 2 games
    2. Drake Caggiula, EDM 8 shots in 2 games
    3. Kyle Clifford, LAK 8 shots in 2 games
    4. Tyler Pitlick, EDM 7 shots in 2 games
    5. Nic Dowd, LAK 7 shots in 2 games
    6. Shane Prince, NYI 7 shots in 2 games
    7. Sam Bennett, CAL 7 shots in 1 game
    8. Source

    We are in the early days of pre-season, and there are lots of veterans who haven’t played yet. Edmonton has not seen the Nuge or Leon in a game yet, so the next week or so we see diminished roles for some or all of the names above. If we use Daniel Sprong (who made the opening night roster) as a guide, what does Caggiula have to do in order to make the team?

    • Stay in a prominent role as long as possible
    • Keep shooting, and scoring!


    • Mike Necciai, FanSided: (during the rookie tournament) He was one step ahead of the play throughout the entire contest and
      looked too fast to be on the ice with other prospects. He again proved
      that he isn’t all that interested in back checking but when he’s
      creating offense it truly is something to marvel. I still don’t see him
      as an NHL forward yet but lookout when he fully develops and finds a
      place with the Pittsburgh Penguins
      . Source

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    • Mark Popchock, Rant Sports (Early October when the buzz was growing) The book on Sprong is that, like Kessel, he’ll shoot first and ask
      questions later. After seeing the perfectionist Pens try unnecessarily
      hard to manufacture offense at times, what fan wouldn’t want to see them
      add a younger, more trigger-happy sniper?
    • Rick Tocchet ”For me, since development camp every day he’s gotten better. He’s
      gaining inches. As you guys saw, he was probably our best forward
      tonight. He’s a talented guy. Asks a lot of questions, and his details
      away from the puck that he probably wasn’t at NHL level yet, he’s
      getting better… They’re evaluating. He’s in the mix.”
    • Damien Cox, Sportsnet: (Mid-October, early in the NHL regular season) The kid has offensive skills. Whether those talents would be better
      honed in Charlottetown or Pittsburgh is the question that will be
      answered in the next few weeks
      . Source

    Sprong stayed in the lineup, kept making plays and found his way onto the opening night roster. Although his career has not progressed as hoped since then, there is no doubt he delivered in training camp and pre-season, winning the day and landing an opening night roster spot in 2015.

    I think Caggiula has already crossed off a couple of the important progress markers, but he will need to impress now that McDavid and Nuge are back, and with Leon returning after the loss last night in the WCOH. Sprong isn’t a perfect comparison to Caggiula, who is older and has a shorter time line to succeed at the NHL level. It does give us a template for turning pre-season success into an NHL job, and after that it is a matter of being able to prove worth for the long NHL season.

    I think the Sprong example is a good one to use as a template for Caggiula—the more positive verbal we see, the better the chance this player makes the opening night roster.

    • Jim Matheson: But if free-agent rookie Drake Caggiula keeps producing as he has
      through camp — he lined up as a left-winger in college at North Dakota
      but as a centre growing up in Ontario — it gives Edmonton Oilers head
      coach Todd McLellan much more ammunition to have Draisaitl on the right
      with RNH
      . Source

    It isn’t all about shooting, but staying on a skill line, getting power-play time and taking advantage of opportunities will be keys for Caggiula this fall. So far, very good.

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    • Spydyr

      Lander had a hat trick last preseason. He then went on to score a grand total of one goal all season. Preseason games especially early preseason games are not a very good measuring stick.

    • KevCantDance

      When I started to really pay attention to The Drake, he reminded me of Gallagher from Montreal. I never hear anyone else compare them though, so…am I nuts? Because a Gallagher-type player on this team would be just perfect.

        • nuge2drai

          “Oiler Domination To Follow”

          Lol first time I’ve ever been accused of being a troll.

          Hall would be a great fit with McDavid.

          He can skate, pass and finish. Maybe one of the only wingers who could keep up.

          Didn’t work last year because Oilers wanted to balance the scoring.

          Take pressure off the rookie who only played 40 games.

          They would have been lights out this year.

          Enjoy your kool-aid.

          • Serious Gord

            I think hall would have been a poor fit. Both he and mcdavid like to carry the pick into the zone.

            If yak had turned into what we all hoped he would be he’d be perfect.

            Lucic delivers in so many ways that hall didn’t – big physical play, front of net presence, diggIng pucks out of the corner. I see their lack of synchronicity as a temporary thing. But we shall see in due time.

          • Looch#27

            Uhmmm they tried that combo and Hall was to stupid to figure out how to play with Conner. I’d also like to point out Halls complete lack of a decent shot, useless on the PP , PK and had no clue where the defensive zone was. Only thing Hall could do was race up the wing and crash the net great traits but not a sniper for sure. Maybe Hall finds these missing traits on NJ but he never showed them here. I’m guessing you swallowed to much MacT koolaid if you still think Hall is an answer to our problems

            • nuge2drai

              Well when you put it that way I don’t know what I was thinking.

              It’s a wonder how he averaged a point a game being such a terrible player.

              No idea how he lead our team in points and assists every season.

              Not sure why the league names him to the all star team each year.

              You must be right, there’s no way he finishes top ten in scoring this season.

              Those gold medals leading Canada in scoring at the worlds the past two years, must be from just crashing the net.


        • nuge2drai

          It’s actually funny how Oiler fans act like management can do nothing wrong, and every move they make is logical.

          They give the braintrust the benefit of the doubt, like there are no other options out there to improve the team.

          Than they are shocked when we finish 30th place every year.

          Trading a 70 point forward for a shutdown D who has 69 points his entire career.

          And I’m the framing hammer.

          • Oilerchild77

            It’s not just about point totals. The Oilers have been bleeding goals against for years and it’s because they didn’t have enough on the backend to break cycles and move the puck up ice. I think it was the right trade. It was expensive, but necessary.

            • nuge2drai

              This team CANNOT score.

              They finish bottom 5 every year.

              They cannot put the puck in the net.

              This has to change and trading away their highest scoring forward for a shutdown D WILL NOT help.

              Am i the only one who sees this? We need puckmoving responsible veteran Dman.

              You would think trading away your best player and two first round picks would accomplish that.

              Not with this regime- 11 years and waiting…

            • Oilerchild77

              They don’t score enough because they can’t get the puck out of their zone fast enough and get on offence. They needed a defenceman that could break cycles down low and pass the puck up ice to the forwards and score on quicker transitions. It isn’t just about “puck moving” defencemen, which is a ridiculous term by the way, since all defencemen need to be able to move the puck as part of playing defence. It’s just the basics of hockey.

            • nuge2drai

              They don’t score enough because their power play always sucks.

              Teams cheat to the forwards because no one respects the shot from the point.

              They are basically playing 4 on 4 out there.

              Almost every time the Oilers have the puck in the ozone the puck dies on the dmans stick.

              They either can’t hit the net, or the shot is blocked leading to an odd man rush.

              I’m shocked you don’t see this, or maybe you stop watching games mid October when the seasons done.

              Your right though, Reinhert will fix this.

              If and when Larsson gets hurt, you do realize Fayne is our number one RH dman.

              Mark F’n Fayne.

              Good luck scoring goals when that happens.

            • Oilerchild77

              I’m not gonna argue that the pp needs work. I also don’t argue that they need a dman that can man the pp. All I’m saying is that to get a competent dman that shoots right isn’t easy or cheap. The fact that all they had to give up was one player is the good thing in all this, because it could have been a lot more.

              Also, I’m not afraid to say that I’m not a Hall fan. He’s a good player, but he hogs the puck and does not buy into system play. And, unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you’ve likely heard the negative comments about Hall that teammates have let slip. And those are just the ones we know about. So it’s obvious that there was more to the trade than just getting a dman. There was a culture issue too.

              And he was a terrible match for McDavid because Hall wanted to be the puck carrier. Except that Hall couldn’t pack Connor’s lunch and needed to learn his place but, as usual, wouldn’t listen and now has to ply his talents elsewhere.

            • nuge2drai

              I heard McDavid say he would never be able to thank Hall for everything he did for him.

              I heard Klefbom say Hall didnt step up when it mattered.

              For one i take McDavids word over Klefboms.

              The fact no games have ever mattered during Klefboms tenure make me feel good about that.

            • RJ

              You’re not afraid to say you’re not a Hall fan after he got traded. Lol

              Some of the long-time posters here know that I was ok with the Oilers trading anyone except McDavid and Drai. I don’t think Hall, Nuge, Eberle or Klefbom are as good as the ON hype machine would have us believe. But if they were going to move them, PC needed to try not to let opposing GMs bend him over a barrel.

              The deepest draft in 20 years, and PC traded the 16 and the 33 for Reinhart, who is no better than the fifth best LHD they have (and never filled a need the Oilers have either as a RHD or as an offensive dman).

              It was the worst Oiler trade since Pronger, until PC gave up last season’s top scorer for a defensive RHD.

              You know what would improve the culture of the Oilers? Winning some damn games. All this other bs would have drifted away.

            • Oilerchild77

              Actually, I’ve never claimed to be a Hall fan. And the trade was fine with me. Get rid of the whining baby puck hog and get an RHD that can actually play. Sounds like progress to me!

    • RJ


      My beef with the Corsi crowd is that counting shots really doesn’t give you a ton of information.

      Were they of the high-danger variety? Were they weak wristers from the boards? The scoring percentage is going to vary dramatically from one to the other.

      If he’s able to get himself into position for quality chances regularly, then they need to find a place for him. If he’s just padding his Corsi, then I’m less inclined to support him starting in the NHL.

    • madjam

      I don’t recall in last 11 years preseason , our club playing and looking as bad as their last two exhibition games . Useless goaltending and porous defence , plagued with minimal offense . How can one be optimistic with last two performances that are so underwhelming and one sided ? Problems keep mounting . Score in essence was really 6-1 , as opposition did not get credit for one like last game . I just can’t believe we look this bad this early , considering the opposition .

      • Druds

        uhh the last eleven years we sucked in the regular season so maybe we are doing the opposite now.

        I remember we came in first in pre season rankings a few years back and gee we still came in last place when it counted so Maj take a pill.

    • Heavy Stick

      How many were NOT regular NHL playERS when you compare teams. Edm wants to see prospects and they lose..big fn deal. Wpg wants to win at home and plays more top players.

    • madjam

      Post game with Todd on shows many players played themselves off the team last night including veterans . Some fell off the “plank” as he put it . Wonder if Klefbom is looking at concussion issues after hit from Buff .

    • madjam

      After Todd interview on game and going to box score it seems evident Kassian , Lander and Pakarinen are the veterans Todd is alluding to along with Khaira by the sounds of it . Penalty kill wise Larsson and Klefbom were brutal . The rest of defense was no better and Reinhart and Fayne did not impress in the slightest . They practiced special teams for 2 days previous and team lays an egg like last night – inexcusable . Even Letestu on the bubble after that performance . Kassian and Pouliot ill advised penalties could have them on the bubble as well . Hopkins , Drake and Jesse probably only ones that did not underperform last night – or made expectations .

    • nuge2drai

      Lucic is a great fit for Drai.

      Drake could be a decent option next to McDavid.

      This defence is still terrible.

      Power play will remain bottom 10 unless we get a true pp qb.


    • I am Batman

      Klefbom really got hurt?

      This is ridiculous, Klefbom for Hamonic or Trouba or almost any reputable defense man sounds pretty good now, hey?

      I can’t believe all the love Klefbom gets here, and I can’t believe you consider his contract a bargain when you take into account the only way you get 82 games out of him is in 2 or more seasons.

      So if he is hurt, now what, we start the excuses of why we end up 2-8 on the first 10 games, which by the way are the easiest?

      Trade Klefbom, trade Eberle, it’s the only way out

        • I am Batman

          Last time I checked neither you nor I make more than 4 Million Dollars a year to play a game where you potentially get an elbow to the head.

          What do you and I have to do with anything?

          But since you like numbers and stats, here is one for you to have some fun:

          Grab all the top four D’s of all teams. Tabulate their salaries, then tabulate the number of games they played. A simple division will show you how much they cost per game. I bet Klefbom is super expensive.

          Is Klefbom really a bargain as everyone says? I get you guys love him (why, I don’t know) but math is math and math beats love.

          Hopefully there’s a GM out there stupid enough to trade for him

    • Spydyr

      It has been so long between articles I got bored and purchased an OilersNation Original YEG Curve Brim Hat.

      Please post an article soon if I spend too much money the wife gets mad at me.

    • Heavy Stick

      Assigning a relative number to our defense show where the deficiency lies.
      Klefbom 3 4mil
      Larsson 4 4 mil
      SekEra 3 5 mil
      Davidson 5 1.5 mil
      Nurse 6 1 mil
      Gryba 6 1 mil
      Oesterle 7 800k
      Reinhart 8
      Fayne 9 3.7 mil
      The issue isn’t the 5 6 7 spot. It’s the 1 2. And Fayne.

    • camdog

      The Oilers powerplay will be better this season with a healthy McDavid and even better without Hall on it. Hall isn’t a power play guy, his run and gun game works great at even strength but it kills possession on the powerplay.

      Lucic, Maroon and company will help to break up the cycle in the Oilers end and help to start the cycle in the oppositions ends. It’s not just the 2 d-man on the ice that work the cycle.

      This season will come down to goaltending. Beware of going into a season without a back up you can lean on…