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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at Drake Caggiula’s Development

Drake Caggiula has played 127 NHL games. He scored seven goals in his first season, 60 games, and scored 13 times in 67 games this past year. He is still a very young player in terms of age, 23, experience, 127 games, and overall development.

Is Caggiula going to be a top-six forward? Unlikely.

Can he be an effective complimentary player for the Oilers moving forward? I believe he can, and that he has more potential than many believe.

On an Oilers team lacking in offensive depth, Caggiula finished fifth in goals. Patrick Maroon is no longer with the organization, so Caggiula was fourth among players who will return next season. Thirteen goals from a role player in his second NHL season is decent production.

No question, Caggiula needs to improve, and when we last spoke he gave a pretty honest assessment of his play.

What is the biggest area he needs to improve?

“Consistency is the biggest thing. I had an up and down season,” said Caggiula. “There were times where I thought I was playing great and then there were times when I got into a slump and couldn’t find a way out of it. I have to find a way to end those slumps a lot earlier and find a way to crawl out of those holes without dwelling on it,” Caggiula continued.

Confidence, or more accurately a lack of it, can derail a ten-year veteran, so it isn’t surprising an NHL sophomore struggled maintaining his. The harsh reality of the NHL is he will need to learn quickly how to avoid long slumps. You rarely become a veteran player if you can’t figure out how to play consistent hockey. Caggiula, like many other young players, will need to find ways to contribute when he isn’t scoring.

Caggiula has other assets. He is a good forechecker. For a smaller player he is quite physical, and can deliver a hard hit which can sometimes give a lagging team a boost. I see him as a bottom six forward, who has the potential and ability to moonlight in your top-six when necessary.

The truth is very few teams have six legitimate top-six forwards. The Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups without six consistent, regular top-six forwards. They had three elite ones in Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Patrik Hornqvist has also been a solid top-six forward. Chris Kunitz had been a very productive top-six forward for years, but by 2016 he was starting to slow down. But the Penguins had players who got hot for the playoffs, or even times in the regular season, and produced like top-six forwards.

In 2016, Nick Bonino had 18 points in 24 playoff games. He’d scored 29 points in the regular season. Carl Hagelin had 16 points in the playoffs. He has never scored more than 39 in any of his seven NHL regular seasons, but he was great in 2016.

In 2017, Connor Sheary had an excellent regular season scored 53 points in 61 games — legit top-six production. In his other 123 regular season games, before and after, he has 40 points. In 57 playoff games he has six goals and 19 points. He moonlighted for a regular season, which was important for home ice advantage, but he hasn’t been a consistent top-six point-producer.

In 2017, Jake Guentzel burst on the scene with 33 points in 40 games and added 13 goals in the playoffs. Guentzel is a top-six forward, but in the playoffs he becomes a top-line player. He has 23 goals in 37 career playoff games. He has 38 goals in 122 regular season games. He has been able to elevate his play at the most important time of the year.

Can Caggiula be similar to Sheary or Bryan Rust, solid bottom six forwards who, when needed, can move up and be complementary top-six forwards? I think he has that potential, and when you look at Caggiula, you don’t get frustrated because he isn’t a regular top-six forward thus far. Focusing on what he can’t do, shouldn’t deter from what he can.

You always want players to improve, but expecting massive gains is ill-advised. I think Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers erred when they felt Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev, Jesse Puljujarvi, Matt Benning and other young players were all going to take big steps after the 2016/2017 season. They should expect improvements, but asking any of them to become regular top-six forwards, or a top-four D-man, were unrealistic.

“You want to improve every year, but for people to think you are going to take these massive jumps it, I don’t know if it is not realistic, but there are a select few players who can take those big jumps, players like Connor (McDavid), and for guys like myself I think I did take steps forward, but there are still part of my game I need to work on and get better. To go from year-to-year and have these crazy jumps, I don’t think it is realistic, but of course there are things you can improve on every year,” Caggiula said.

“I increased my goal scoring, which was something I wanted to do, but I had a lot more opportunities to score and hopefully next season I can cash in on more of those chances,” he continued.

It would be great if one of the Oilers had a William Karlsson-like breakout, but those types of seasons are massive outliers. Caggiula needs to improve, of course, but his gains most likely won’t be massive from year to year.

This was the first season he was exclusively a winger, and I’d hope the Oilers recognize he is natural winger, not a centre, like they tried in his first 20+ NHL games.

“I played wing in college for four years and whenever you play a natural position it allows you to do the things you are capable of doing and to stay within your own game. Playing wing all season helped me,” Caggiula said honestly. One of the keys of coaching is to put players in the best position to succeed. The fact the Oilers had to try him as a third line centre in 2016/2017 illustrated how much they lacked depth. If he has to play there the odd game, sure, but they would be better off finding a 13th or 14th forward who is a natural centre, so if an injury occurs to Ryan Strome or Jujhar Khaira, they have another bottom-six centre ready to slot in.

PK STRUGGLES…

Apr 18, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Drake Caggiula (36) shoots as San Jose Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) defends during the first period in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

One area Caggiula struggled in early last season was on the penalty kill.

“I think at the start to the season I was getting a lot of penalty kill time and I didn’t really take advantage of it. There was simple coverages I was missing like seam passes and making the wrong reads, but as a whole the team wasn’t very good at penalty killing early on. We did individually improve later in the year, but I think if I had a better start on the penalty kill then I can increase my playing time. That is an area I want to embrace. I penalty killed in college and took pride in it and hopefully I can find a home on the PK as well.

Why were you making the wrong reads on the PK, I asked?

“I think experience was one thing and sometimes you give players too much respect. You see these superstar players, and what they want is time and space, and sometimes, I don’t want to say you get in awe of the player, but you kind of sit back and think ‘this is a good player and we are going to give him more respect,’ and often that gets you in deep holes. I think being more aggressive and sharper with reads will go a long way in helping the penalty kill,” said Caggiula.

Strome and Khaira were quite strong on the PK in the final 30 games, and at this point Caggiula will likely be the sixth or seventh forward on the penalty kill. If, or when, he does get on the PK, he will have to show he’s learned to make better reads if he wants more PK time.

Realistically, I could see him getting more PP time instead of more PK time.

The Oiler’s PP struggled mightily in the final 60 games last season, clicking along at a woeful 11.5%. You don’t have to have your best 5×5 players on one unit to be successful, and while Caggiula is much smaller than Milan Lucic, he showed better finish in tight on the PP last season. Being a good net front presence isn’t just about size. It is about timing as well. Knowing when to get in the goalie’s line of vision, especially on a point shot, can be crucial for a powerplay’s success. Craig Smith and Colton Sissons do this very well in Nashville. It is something Caggiula should try to master.

Caggiula had three PP goals in 65 minutes this season. Milan Lucic had three in 174 minutes, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had four in 121 minutes, McDavid had five in 243 minutes and Leon Draisaitl had six in 220. Caggiula is good at retrieving pucks, he has quickness to pressure the D-men and he has a decent shot. He and Jesse Puljujarvi should both get more minutes on the PP this season, at different positions. Puljujarvi is more of an outside shooter, while Caggiula is better suited as a net-front presence or in the a low/side bumper position.

FIND A HOME..

Feb 22, 2017; Sunrise, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Kris Russell (4) celebrates his game winning goal against the Florida Panthers with center Drake Caggiula (36) and center Leon Draisaitl (29)in the third period at BB&T Center. The Oilers won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Every player would like to carve out a spot in the lineup. The elite players often find their groove in the top-six right away, but many players will move around before finding some continuity.

The Oilers had ten forwards who played 700+ EV minutes last season. Of those ten, Caggiula only had one linemate whom he played more than 200 minutes with, and that was 206 with Ryan Strome. Caggiula is hoping he can find a more regular spot next year.

“Finding a home and finding a consistent spot in the lineup allows you to play more consistent, and having consistent linemates allows you to play a bit better. I’d like to find a home in the lineup and find some consistency in that. I think that will go a long way in helping my overall game,” he said.

Here are the ten Oilers forwards who played over 700 EV minutes.

McDavid (1,434 minutes). He played 200+ minutes with five forwards: the most with Patrick Maroon (523), Draisaitl (498), Lucic (419), Puljujarvi (256) and Nugent-Hopkins (207). I expect him and RNH to play a lot together next season.

Draisaitl (1,207 minutes). He played 200+ minutes with three forwards: McDavid (498), Maroon (334) and Lucic (278). I believe it is imperative the Oilers find a RW to play with Draisaitl.

Lucic (1,132 minutes). He played 200+ min with five different forwards: Puljujarvi (465), McDavid (419), RNH (314), Draisaitl (278) and Strome (216). Captain Obvious says he must be better next season, and he likely starts with Draisaitl. But he will need to produce to stay there.

Strome (1,026 minutes). Four linemates over 200 minutes: Jujhar Khaira (263), Puljujarvi (237), Lucic (216) and Caggiula (206). Strome looked for comfortable in the 3C slot in the second half of the season.

Nugent-Hopkins (899 minutes). He had three linemates over 200 minutes: Lucic (314), Maroon (223) and McDavid (207). He will be a fixture on McDavid’s LW this season.

Maroon (872 minutes). With three forwards over 200 minutes: McDavid (523), Draisaitl (334) and RNH (223). He was traded to New Jersey at the deadline and I don’t expect he re-signs in Edmonton.

Puljujarvi (820 minutes). He had three forwards over 200 minutes. Lucic (465), McDavid (256) and Strome (237). Puljujarvi has a lot of room, and time, to develop. I think he comes to camp slotted on Strome’s wing, but he will also be competing for one of the top-two RW spots. I expect he will be stronger and more in control of his large frame, and he could have a normal, slow progression or he possibly could take a big jump and be around the 20-goal mark this season. I believe when he is 22 he is going to be a force, but the Oilers and fans will need to be patient with his development over the next two seasons.

Caggiula (793 minutes). He played with only one forward for 200+ minutes: Strome (206). I’ve read some suggest he is “not and NHL player”, which is laughable considering he scored 13 goals last season, and some believe he is only a fourth liner. If he is a fourth liner, then they have a lot of depth on left wing. I see him battling for the 3LW to start the season.

Khaira (749 minutes). Had one linemate for over 200+ minutes: Strome (263). Khaira likes playing centre more, but he had more production as a left winger. I like his size down the middle and he showed well as a penalty killer. I could see him starting the season as the 4C, but could also see him getting a lot of PK time and maybe some time on the second PP unit.

Kassian (747 minutes). Had one linemate over 200+minutes: Mark Letestu (396). Kassian, like most Oilers, wasn’t as assertive or consistent in 2018 as he was in 2017. He and Khaira could be a strong base for a fourth line, two big bodies who can skate and chip in some offence.

WRAP UP…

Caggiula is still very young in his career, but this upcoming season is vital for him as he tries to secure his place in the lineup. He is confident he can bring more.

“I think scoring 13 (goals) is a good step. I had seven year last year and basically doubled it this year. Hopefully I can get close to the 20 goal range. I think I’m capable of doing it. With the amount of chances I had this year I think I’m capable of it. The biggest thing is being confident in my abilities and not dwelling on bad things if I miss a chance. There was a few times where I let things get to me and get a little too critical of myself and that causes me to not play how I normally would. I’d like to take another step, in my overall game and get closer to being a 20-goal scorer,” said Caggiula.

Scoring 20 goals is not easy, and that is a lofty goal for him. If he can be in the 15-17 range that would be a great season in my eyes, but Caggiula believes he can do more than he has so far.

He is currently an RFA, but I expect the Oilers to qualify him, if they don’t reach an agreement before the QO deadline in late June. His new deal will likely be in the $900,000 to $1 million range. Even if he only scores 13 goals, but improves on the PK, he will be a good value contract.

Last year, 218 forwards in the NHL scored 13 or more goals. That is seven forwards per team. Caggiula isn’t a first line player, and might never be one, but instead of focusing on what he didn’t do with McDavid, I think the focus should be on his overall production. Scoring goals is still a very important stat in hockey. They impact the game directly more than WOWY, CF%, goal share or many other stats.

Caggiula has played 1,413 5×5 minutes in the NHL in two seasons. He has played 213 5×5 minutes with McDavid. So a grand total of 15% of his 5×5 time was with McDavid, yet people keep repeating his numbers with McDavid. It makes no sense to me. McDavid has played 2,654 5×5 minutes the past two seasons and he’s played 8% of those minutes (213) with Caggiula. Stop suggesting Caggiula plays a lot with McDavid. It is asininely incorrect.

Caggiula needs to improve and become more consistent, but 13 goals from a complementary forward is solid production in today’s NHL.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

    • 24% body fat

      Developed into the 2nd worst player in the NHL,

      This guy sucks! Not that Slepyshev was a great player but he was definitely better, and we lost him for nothing because of the icetime gifted to this useless scrub.

    • OilerForLife

      Caggiula will be a good value contract bottom 6 player and we’ll need more with 3 players leaving overnight. This is only his 2nd year, more patience is required. Winnipeg built through the draft, its the way.

      • Anton CP

        He is second year all right but he is also 23 years old going 24 at the start of next season so he is not a young prospect type of player. Also his non-existent defensive games and being a turnover machine that he is not even fit to be bottom 6. Since he was signed as FA out of college that he is expected to step in and perform right away. He did not live up to the expectation on his first season and he certainly got worst this season.

        “Development” is hard to associate with someone that is 23 going 24 years old forward. You can use it on defenseman or goalie because they do take longer time to develop but for forward…not so much.

        • OilerForLife

          It’s still only his 2nd season and he played with a busted up face. Give up on players at 24 would be a bad policy for any NHL team. I still think he could be a solid 3rd line player, either here or on another team.

          Comparing a undrafted college player and a player coming out of the CHL isn’t the same thing. US college is very different career path in regards to games played, and they enter pro hockey at a different age.

          You still have to fill those bottom 6 forwards until some of the prospects develop. The free agent market is too expensive and we have dome holes to fill.

  • 24% body fat

    Everyone Focuses on what he didnt do with McDavid because that is where he was playing. If the coach put him 4th LW than fine, he wouldnt be the goat. The coach and GMs lack of ability and stubborness to see what this player actually is, is the problem. 4th Lw that can move up a line or 2 temporarly with no special teams time.

    • Jason Gregor

      That is where he was playing? Really?

      “Caggiula has played 1,413 5×5 minutes in the NHL in two seasons. He has played 213 5×5 minutes with McDavid. So a grand total of 15% of his 5×5 time was with McDavid, yet people keep repeating his numbers with McDavid. It makes no sense to me. McDavid has played 2,654 5×5 minutes the past two seasons and he’s played 8% of those minutes (213) with Caggiula.” You’re completely inaccurate in your statement suggesting “that is where Caggiula has been playing.” 🙂

      • 24% body fat

        fair, but what did he bring to the PP, why did they need another left handed forward on it. Successful PPs dont have 5 left shots on them, with one of them no track record of NHL finishing ability or playmaking.

        And weather or not it was McDavid or not, he was given opportunities in all situation greater than that of Slep or JP who have draft and skill pedigree. They were trying to make caggulia a player, when the should have been developing Slep and JP into players. Will is good, but will without skill is not an NHL player.

        • Oilman99

          Points to remember. The guy scored 13goals,if he stay healthy there is a very good chance he can get between 15 and 20, not bad for a third or fourth liner. He has good wheels,and plays big for his size. Take into consideration who he played with in college, and it is obvious he can play with skilled forwards. He is good value for a depth forward which the Oilers are leaking badly with recent jumps to the KHL.

        • Jason Gregor

          He brought goals. He had three goals in 65 minutes on the PP. RNH had 3 in 121 min. Lucic had 3 in 174 min. McDavid had five in 243 min. Draisaitl had six in 220 min. Caggiula didn’t play much on the PP, but when he did he was productive. You’d rather not have that production just because he shoots left?

          Slepyshev was drafted in 2013. We are talking about what he did in 2017 and 2018. You shouldn’t just give players chances because of where they were drafted five years earlier. You play players who are producing. Caggiula produced more than Slepyshev. It would be foolish not to play him ahead of him because of where Slep was drafted five years earlier.

  • Didn’t Caligula pick Oilers over others after he finished with the NCAA? Like Justin Schultz, thrown to the wolves, without proper development, he now struggles. However, with three depth players bolting for the KHL, he should find it easier to land a permanent spot in the bottom six.

  • OilersBro

    Value contracts are needed. At 1MM you can bury him in the minors, and that’s a lot better of an option than the “Andrew Ladd” rumours I heard today at a 5.5MM caphit

    • 24% body fat

      Cheap contracts doesnt mean they are value contracts. Value contracts are when a player exceeds the expected production relative to what he is paid for. Caggulia still needs 10 goals and 20 assists minimum for a 1M dollar contract to be a value contract. If he was actually good on the PK, than you could have less expected production, but he was a tire fire on the PK.

      • FutureGM

        Did you not read the article. Only 213 players scored 13+ goals and I guarantee the overwhelming majority got paid well over 1million. 1million is almost minimum wage in the NHL, to think one isn’t getting value for 10 goals at 1Million when the highest scorer is getting 9.5million for 50 goals shows you lack understanding of basic math

      • crabman

        A 30 point season would have put him around 215 in forward scoring. the 215 top forward salary is $2M. At 1 million 30 pts would be one of the biggest deals in the NHL.

        • 24% body fat

          I think you are missing my point. For it to be a value contract 30 points. If it is more like 2 mil than it could be a fair contract. But 20 some points playing a tonne of pp time with 2 elite players you better have inflated numbers.

          • crabman

            @24%body fat,
            No I didn’t miss your point. I was responding to the fact you think he needs to score 20 goals and 30 points at $1M to be considered a value contract. As Gregor pointed out in the arrival Caggiula didn’t get a big McDavid push. He didn’t get a big Draisaitlt push either. His most common linemate was the 3rd line center. He also didn’t get a big pp push. He is 13th on the team in forwards for pp time/game. If he can play bottom 6 and score a bit more like a couple more goals and 3 more assists that would give him 15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points. That is value for $1M. He was already 196 in goals for forwards 15 would have put him at 163 in goals.
            The best comparison for that kind of production over the last couple years would be Brett Connolly and he makes $1.5M.

        • crabman

          nhl.com for scoring leaders and capfriendly for player salaries. 30pts puts a player top 215 in league scoring for forwards. 31 teams means 215th in scoring puts you at the top end of 3rd line players. $1M is a bargain at that range.

        • crabman

          @JimmyV1965,

          go look at forwards scoring 29-31 pts this year. Besides elc players 1 player make $1M. 10 make over $3M.
          All this “excremental knowledge” is out there if you.remove your head from your backside and look for it.

  • OilersBro

    I know I’ve mentioned this on Oilersnation before, but there’s something to be said for a guy that breaks his jaw, and the next game rips his faceshield off to fight an opposing player while protecting a teammate. If we give him a 1MM contract, I am A-Okay with giving a young player who hasn’t hit his peak another chance with this team – even if it is in the bottom 6. Dude has guts

  • The Whispererer

    One of the Oilers many problems is that they have 3 players ( Lucic, Caggiula, Khaira ) who would be best suited at 3LW and none of them ( barring a significant rebound from Lucic ) are adequate for 2LW duty. Unfortunately, because Oilers, Lucic will open the season at 2LW and will grow roots there regardless of performance. With the top 3 RW positions based on hopes and prayers ( Rattie, JP, KY ) it could be another long season. Sigh. Damn those NMCs.

    • TKB2677

      Question. Last season Lucic had 23 goals, 50 pts. Is that not second line numbers? When Nashville was going to the cup finals last year, their best forward – Forsberg – had 31 goals, 58 pts in 82 games. I assume that everyone is in agreement that last season Forsberg was a top line player. So 8 pts is the difference between a 1st liner and a 3rd liner? Really?

      There is no doubt that he had a crap year this past season. But before this season, he consistently put up around 20 goals and 50 pts every year. That is second line numbers. So the guy has 1 bad year, basically the first one he ever had and automatically he’s a 3rd liner now? I am not here to stick up for Lucic because I am not a fan of his contract. But at the same time, wouldn’t the logical thing be to see what he does this year before we write him off as done? NO stats guy is going to say he can give you any kind of decent results on any player with 1 season of evidence. A great example is Kopitar. Kopitar was terrible last season. 76 games, 12 goals, 52 pts while making 10 mill. All the seasons before he was pretty darn good. This season Kopitar in 82 games 35 goals, 92 pts, his best ever season. Now do I expect Lucic to put up those numbers? Not a chance in hell. But could he bounce back to his normal 20+ goals and 50+ pts. Easily.

        • TKB2677

          Here I am basically defending a guy who I am not totally a fan of but why is it that so many Oilers fans have him pegged as a basically waste of a roster spot after 1 season? If he was 35 then sure but he’s going to be 30, that’s not exactly old. I think the management of this team has made some stupid mistakes but at the same time, I see so many Oilers fans basically freaking out and are convinced the roster is a pile of crap and we are screwed after 1 season. Then I go look at the Oilers stats and 3/4 of the entire roster including the goalie had below average seasons, including Lucic. So while I agree that the roster isn’t perfect and needs to be tweaked, at the same time if a bunch of players just have career average seasons, they will improve considerably. When it comes to Lucic, you say he has to have a significant rebound. That’s fair but given his career numbers where he consistently put up numbers year after year at one level, then he as 1 bad season. When doing stats, you usually take out the high and the low as outliers and what’s in the middle is what you use. So if a person does that, there is a really good chance, Lucic can return to normal numbers pretty easily.

          • crabman

            @TKB2677,

            First I agree with you that this was Lucic’s worst season and I’m not ready to write him off as nothing more than a bottom 6 guy moving forward until he proves that to be true. I will give him the benefit of the doubt based on his career track record.

            But now I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment. This isn’t Lucic’s 1st poor season 5×5. This is 2 seasons in a row of poor 5×5 scoring. Last year Lucic’s poor 5×5 production was somewhat masked by career high pp points. Lucic scored 25 points, or 50% of his total points, on the pp. leaving only 25 5×5 points. This year his pp points dried up but he actually scored better at evens with 27 points, still well bellow his career average of 37 5×5 points per year. Lucic has never been a pp scorer. Before coming to the Oilers he scored 17% of his points on the pp meaning the bulk of his production is done 5×5. Therefore having 2 subpar 5×5 seasons in a row is concerning and I have less hope he will return to a 50-55pt player and lowered my expectation to a 40-45pt player. Still well within the range of a 2nd line player but just not as good as he once was.

      • The Whispererer

        To further clarify…i wasn’t suggesting that Lucic should automatically be traded if he didn’t have a NMC. Rather, i am saying that the proliferation of NMCs result in handcuffing management’s ability to improve the team, to the point where people propose trading JP ( who is most projectable as future 1RW ) for Faulk or trading Draisaitl for Karlsson.

        • Crakupov

          Wooo did you say that Puljujarvi is projecting to be a future 1RW? I hope you mean on bakersfield because I’m not sure he will ever be a top 6 guy. He has a decent shot sometimes and that’s about it. To say he is projecting for the first line is a huge stretch for a guy who was only mediocre in the AHL. I’m not sure what to do about him, I cant see it being the Oilers fault as he has been given a lot more ice time than he deserves.

          • The Whispererer

            Some have said that JP’s outer marker is Marian Hossa. Admitted, that is wildly optimistic, but if JP turns out to be 65% of Hossa…

            Hossa had 15 goals and 15 assists in 60 games in his 20 year old season after 1 apple in 7 games as an 19 year old. . JP had 12 goals and 8 assists in 65 games in his 19 year old season. after 1G and 7A in 28 games in his 18 year old season.
            I would not be the least bit surprised to see JP surpass Hossa’s 20 year old season and become a solid top 6 RW a year later. He is still a kid learning to manage his hulking body.

          • Crakupov

            @thewhisperer I hope you realize how much of a long shot your thinking is as the vast majority of top 9 forwards will give you an inkling of what they are capable of in the first 2 years. We had a guy who worked in the mail room of imperial oil go on to be the Prime minister, it doesn’t mean everyone working in the mail room will. At this stage the odds are very much against puljujarvi being anything more than we currently see which is at best a third line pairing. Kassian has a better chance of breaking out as the next Marian Hossa than Puljujarvi does.

  • TKB2677

    I find it baffling when I read comments from people saying Cagguila is a terrible player. He scored 13 goals last year. Considering in this era, an elite goal scorer scores you 40 goals, Ovie lead the league with 49. A really good goal scorer scores you 30+ and a decent goal scorer scores you 20+. If you score 20+ goals you are considered a decent second liner on most teams. So with that in mind, by today’s standards, a decent 4th line guy scores you probably 8-10 goals. A decent 3rd liner scores you 10-15 goals with a really good 3rd liner getting you over 15 goals. So at 13 goals, what exactly is the problem with Cagguila? Does he have consistency problems? Yes. Does he need to work on his overall game? Yes. But he has 127 NHL games, that is 1.5 seasons of experience.

    If he is cast properly as a 3rd line player with a maybe a bit of second unit PP time from time to time and he ends up hovering around 15 goals while playing with a physical edge and providing some speed all while improving his overall game which will come with experience, what exactly is the problem with that?

  • Kepler62c

    They’d be silly to get rid of him. Good teams have these depth guys who score 10-15 in the bottom six with a little PP time. He’s dogged on the forecheck, plays with passion, and belongs in the NHL.

    20 G is a stretch, but good for him for setting the bar high for himself. Would love to see it happen. 13 EV, 7PP does it, not impossible.

  • freelancer

    Caggiula is an okay player but the coach’s usage of him was baffling. Caggiula scored 16 points at even strength last season over 67 games while averaging 13:33 minutes a game.

    Kassian produced the same playing 11:40 a night (lowest of any forward).
    Puljujarvi produced 18 playing 13:22 and in fewer games
    Khaira produced 18 playing 12:42 a night
    Slepyshev produced 4 fewer points but played 17 less games and only playing 11:48 on average.

    Caggiula is an okay player but he is being played much more than he should be. He is not producing at a level acceptable for that amount of ice time. He would be better off averaging 12 minutes a night

    • crabman

      @freelancer,

      Out of all Oiler forwards that played at least 50 games Cagguila played 9th most 5×5 min/game, 9th most pp min/game and 8th most pk min/game. Caggiula’s 20 points puts him at 288th in scoring for forwards. With 31 teams a 288th player would put him right at 9th best scoring on an average team and 9th in forward scoring on the Oilers right inline with his minutes per game.

  • Moneyball

    Caggiula is a keeper. He is a value contract and at times can rely impress you with his play. I have seen development this past season and we can expect some more next season.

  • ed from edmonton

    I recall the day when the Oil came out of nowhere to sign Cagulia as they were not initially considered to be in the hunt. Mckenzie stated he would be a bottom 6 forward. Looks like he is meeting expectations.

  • toprightcorner

    Caggiula definitely needs to work on his PK skills. right now he has the offense to be a solid 3rd line guy, but the inconsistency means he is currently better suited as a high quality 4th line player. He should start on the 4th line and once he becomes more consistent, push him up to the 3rd line.

    The only way I start the season with Caggiula on the 3rd line is if Yamamoto starts in the AHL and the Oilers add a veteran for the 3rd line RW. If Yamamoto is on the 3rd line out of camp, you can’t put Caggiula on the other side, that line would get eaten alive.

    Even though I think JJ should be 4C, I would rather have him on 3LW ahead of Caggiula and bring in a veteran center like Beagle if required.

  • Braindead

    Doesn’t help the fact Edmonton can’t develop players. Maybe if the Oilers had a few skilled veteran forwards and also that don’t rely on a young team to win. Oilers always had a lack of leadership.
    Just look how they handled Puljujarvi. Absolutely embarrassing.

    • Moneyball

      The oilers have had a poor draft record for the past 8 years, but they have developed players. I’m hoping with woodcroft in Bakersfield they get even better at it.

    • ed from edmonton

      While watching the Jets these nights, the difference between Laine and Puljujarvi is amazing for two players considered very close on draft day. To sum it up, Laine plays at a high NHL speed, he is on top of the play, knows how to free himself up to get dangerous shots off and can challenge one on one. JP has two nice attributes, he is big and can skate well. But he is usually a half step behind the play and rarely looks dangerous. JP has a long way to go to get up to NHL speed. Whether the Oil could have done something different to help JP play at NHL speed, I have no idea. Let’s hope the game “slows down” so to speak for JP>

    • Oilman99

      Caggulia is a clone of another Cagg guy the Oilers bailed on, seems to me that guy turned into a pretty good utility forward. Penalty killing takes time to learn.

  • Shameless Plugger

    To suggest he can be anything higher than a third line player would be extremely optimistic I think. I like his dogged determination on the forecheck. But he only “brings it” every other game. Saying you need to be more consistent is lip service. It’s not hard to give an effort every game.

  • GK1980

    Guys like cags and Kassian are are quick but lack consistent top six skill. Give them a defined roll next season on the third line. They can be the hard forechecking line. The energy line. Give them a defined roll.

  • crabman

    I’ve been saying this for a while now, I have room in the bottom 6 on my team for Caggiula. He forechecks well, plays with grit and can chip in some goals.

  • Anton CP

    In NHL that on average the players ended their sting in 3 age groups: 23~24,27~28,and 30+. Those normally associated with their entry level contracts with bridge deal and followed by the UFA status then eternity.

    The first age group is sort of “show me” stage that the players have to be able to display a constant roster player because they are supposedly pass their development status. Unless it is a defenseman or a goalie that they will have the benefit of doubt in need of seasoning but if any forward cannot produce at the age group that they have to compete with the new younger up-and-comers. Players fade away after their entry and bridge expired to be replaced by a new pool of prospects.

    So the question will be, is Caggiula lived up to the expectation? Caggiula was not signed as bottom 6 players but he ended up playing lots of bottom 6 may just because he wasn’t good enough? With Aberg and Rattie will challenge him for the roster spot that is not even counting Benson and Yamamoto may get call up at some point next season, he is not even remotely close to be in the discussion of “development”.

    • ed from edmonton

      Agree that Cagulia is no longer in his development stage. However anyone who expected him to be more than a bottom 6 player was being optimistic. if you look at his deployment over the last 2 years, he has been a bottom 6 player with itermittent cameos in the top 6.