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?
2015-16 Pre-season Shots On Goal Leaders
- Alex Ovechkin, WAS 26 shots in 5 games
- Jeff Skinner, CAR 21 shots in 5 games
- Brent Burns, SJS 20 shots in 4 games
- Matt Irwin, BOS 20 shots in 4 games
- Michael Mersch, LAK 20 shots in 6 games
- Beau Bennett, PIT 19 shots in 4 games
- Wayne Simmonds, PHI 19 shots in 5 games
- James van Riemsdyk TOR 19 shots in 5 games
- Daniel Sprong PIT 18 shots in 5 games
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
- Kevin Gravel, LAK 10 shots in 2 games
- Drake Caggiula, EDM 8 shots in 2 games
- Kyle Clifford, LAK 8 shots in 2 games
- Tyler Pitlick, EDM 7 shots in 2 games
- Nic Dowd, LAK 7 shots in 2 games
- Shane Prince, NYI 7 shots in 2 games
- Sam Bennett, CAL 7 shots in 1 game
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!
BUILDING A STORY (SPRONG STYLE)
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
— CCM Hockey (@CCMHockey) October 1, 2015
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? Source
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.” Source
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.
To me, the battle for an #Oilers roster spot is between Jesse Puljujarvi as a top-nine RW and Drake Caggiula as a third-line C.
— Larry Fisher (@LarryFisher_KDC) September 30, 2016
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.