Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

In-Depth on Drake Caggiula

Yesterday, it was announced that the Oilers had agreed to terms with forward Drake Caggiula on a two-year contract with an annual cap hit of $1.5 million (WE FINALLY GOT THE FULL DETAILS). The deal has been met with a little bit of hate, but it’s done now and all we can do is look forward.

What can we expect from Caggiula over the next two years and what could he do to make this a bargain contract?

Let’s start by going back and revisiting how he produced last season, his second year in the league.

At five-on-five, Caggiula was far from productive. Here are some numbers I found interesting:

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  • He was 12th in points/60 amongst the teams regular forwards, despite having the 5th best individual shooting percentage. Only Mark Letestu was worse.
  • He was 6th in individual scoring chances/60 with a rate of 7.49.
  • When he was on the ice, 52% of the scoring chances that occurred were against the Oilers. That puts him 9th on the team.

From those numbers, he produced like an average bottom-six winger. The problem some fans and media had was that Caggiula wasn’t being treated like a bottom six winger.

Last season he played 776 total minutes at 5v5. Among that time, he played 176 minutes with Leon Draisaitl and 139 minutes with Connor McDavid. It’s fair to assume that Caggiula spent 315 minutes in the Oilers top six, which works out to about 40% of his 5v5 ice time.

In my opinion, he did not produce well enough to deserve as many chances in the top six as he got, and when he did get those looks, he didn’t make the most of the opportunities

While the numbers weren’t there, Caggiula passed my eye test on more than a few nights. He hustles to a lot of loose pucks, beats out a noticeable amount of icings, and plays physical for a player listed at just 5’10. That doesn’t come through in the numbers, and some will roll their eyes at it, but he plays the game hard and there is value in that.

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While he didn’t produce well 5v5, on the powerplay, he was actually pretty good given his limited minutes.

  • He played the 9th most minutes amongst Oilers forwards.
  • Had a 12.86 shots/60, which puts him 3rd among forwards (with more than 50 mins of PP time).
  • His points/60 was 4th at 2.76.
  • He had a 17.45 iSCF/60 (individual scoring chances per 60), and did a good job of producing high-danger chances.

His numbers on the powerplay were fairly solid and I’d say that the team actually underutilized him there.


Dec 21, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Drake Caggiula (91) celebrates a third period goal against the St. Louis Blues at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the contract is signed, it’s up to Caggiula to prove the Oilers made a good signing. He’s at a make-or-break point in his career. Two more years of just meddling on the fourth line could be the end of him in the NHL but if he can solidify himself as a productive middle six winger, who brings a physical edge, and contributes on the powerplay he could end up having a long career.

One contract comparable is Casey Cizikas. He signed a 2 year, $1 million dollar deal with the Islanders in 2014 after 140  career games, where he produced 40 points. That’s very similar to the experience and numbers Caggiula has.

Cizikas went from a 15 point player to almost a 30 point player by the end of the second season. He also established himself as a strong energy forward, who played a very physical style of hockey. He proved himself in his second contract and was rewarded with a 5 year, $3.35 million deal.

Caggiula doesn’t have the same physical edge, and I think he has more of an offensive upside. But the progression in the two-year bridge deal that Cizikas had is what we should be looking for over the next two years with Drake. If he can bump up his point totals while keeping up his physical play, he should set himself up for a decent payday when this deal expires.

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If I’m the Oilers, I would be expecting him to become a regular 15 goal scorer, who can even hit 20 in a really good year or with some added powerplay minutes (which I think he should be getting).

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Caggiula clicks with either Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid, and takes advantage of some added powerplay time. He finishes the year in the 20 goal range and hits the 40 point mark.

REALISTIC SCENARIO: Last year, we saw his goal total jump from 7 to 13. This year I could see him hit the 15 goal mark with a little more powerplay time. If he keeps his physical edge and can bring a bit more of an offensive punch to the bottom six, he’ll be a valuable piece.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Players like Kailer Yamamoto, Jujhar Khaira, Ty Rattie, and Pontus Aberg find ways to pass Caggiula on the Oilers depth chart and he finishes the year as the 13th forward, or worse. Likely with less than 10 goals.

Now that we know what the contract is, what are you looking for from Drake Caggiula next year? Let me know!

      • Spydyr

        For me statistical expectations are only one part of the equation for a bottom six player. what intangibles do they bring. Do they hit,intimidate or stand up for their teammates. How good defensively they are. Are you buying unrestricted years or is the player still restricted.

        It is not all about offensive stats when rating a NHL player.

        • QuitForRealThisTime

          So a subjective ‘eye’ test, with biased (even unintentional) views. From what I have seen based on his play is a player that while still learning to play at the NHL level has at times although inconsistently able to make plays and add energy and some grit. Posting 13 goals, have decent skating and not total un-gifted offensively. Lookig at comparable on other teams of player that make in the range of $1.5 million he is payed about average.

      • crabman


        William Karlsson $1M 78pts
        Jonathan Marchessault $750K 75pts
        Yanni Gourde $1M 64 pts
        Jake Guentzel $734K 48pts
        Alex Kerfoot $925K 43pts
        Riley Nash $900K 41pts
        Chris Tierney $735K 40pts
        Derek Ryan $1.425M 38pts

        It’s easy to cherry pick the worst contracts in Caggiula’s scoring range and use them as a comparison ssying he isn’t over paid.
        It’s just as easy for me to pick out some of the leagues best players being paid less than Caggiula to point out him being overpaid.

  • FanBoy

    you mean we can’t expect him to produce PPG playing on the 4th line? He makes 1.5M for God’s sake! He should be running for the Art Ross by November or he’s a bust

  • Big Nuggets

    I could see Caggiula having a minor bump in scoring this year or next. But so far he has yet to find his role on the team and could easily end up as the 13th forward. The contract is alright I guess, just kind of annoying for me as a Pitlick fan to see Caggoula earning half a million more money when we could have had the better player for cheaper.

  • Cowboy Bill

    I would expect Caggiula to be the fourth line LW along with Kassian on the RW and either Khaira or a UFA center yet to be determined . And I expect that trio to be amongst the top fourth lines in the league . Not much really .
    I also hop Benning gets an identical contract .

    • OilersBro

      That’s not bad for depth since we are looking at:

      Nuge McDaddy Rattie
      — Drai Yamo
      Lucic Strome Pulu
      Cags Khaira Kassian

      Right now the 2LW could be a free agent (JVR, Maroon). filled with Mike Cammy (not ideal but available for cheap), Benson (if he proves himself in training camp).

      Another idea I had was to find a 4C for cheap and move JJ up to 3 LW and Lucic to 2LW. Also Pulu and Yamo could be swapped in those line ups^

  • Edmonton Eulers

    I don’t mind Caggiula for what he brings. He provides some speed and energy to the bottom 6 while chipping in some goals. That’s about all you can ask your depth forwards to do. I definitely think he’s better suited for the 3rd or 4th line, but he could jump up to the top 6 in case of injuries (if he clicks better with McDavid or Draisaitl). I think the contract is an overpay by about 250-500k, but that’s just what you get with Chia.

  • Vanhellian

    I’m looking forward to seeing how the change in coaching staff will affect guys like Caggiula. The success of Vegas this year was an example of how coaching is the difference maker in todays NHL. Guys like Drake, and Benning will never succeed with poor coaching…

  • Tonya Harding Compete Level

    If he can contribute 13-15 goals and 30-35 pts I’ll be pleasantly surprised. No PK time and more PP time would be ideal given his limitations.

  • NewPants

    It seems Pete C likes to give a little 20% extra (it’s not his money after all) to everyone except Rattie. If this is how his calculator works we can expect Benning to get 2.5-3 mill and I don’t want to see what Nurse gets.

    • LAKID

      Nurse or Klefbom are headed out of town (see what I did there). Looks like Chia is spending all his money before he deals with Nurse. Chia has to sign Nurse for less than 5M or he gone Bye Bye!

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Or, just maybe he hasn’t told you yet? Cause, really, when it comes down to it, it’s none of your or our business what the players get paid…
        As fun as it is to talk about it, it’s not your call…
        Who’s to say that a player signs for less than they are worth, just because they like a team & a lifestyle? (That would never be the case here in Edmonton, with fans like us running everyone out of town) But what’s stopping a player from taking less because he likes the present situation? It happens everywhere outside of sport… Example, why would anyone live in Vancouver, where housing is 1200% more than anywhere else in the country??? The pay is no different, in fact worse in most cases. Life situation, is why.
        None of this is your, or my, or anyones call, but the team & the player involved.
        So, lets be great to all our Oiler Team Members, as fans… Then just maybe we can lure Karlsson, Tavares & Doughty? Lifestyle & team success is what it’s all about, you only have so many years to be able to play with McDavid…..

    • NewPants

      Wow… now that we know the way players will be payed we can expect Strome, Benning, and Nurse to get 3.25, 3, 4.5 = 10.75 mill

      Less then 3 mill for 2 forwards and 1 D.

      Pete is felling his own pressure to make cap space.

      • oilerjed

        This is a gross use of math. look it up and see the comparables of players with 13 goals and you will see that if anything this is an underpay for a guy that has upside.

          • oilerjed

            Your completely out to lunch. None of the players that are comparable are getting less then 1 mil and many are being paid more. Did you look up the other players that scored similar point totals to Cags? If you did you would have seen that most are paid 1 mil ish or more then what you are saying is an overpay..

        • crabman


          I will counter your request for us to look at other players that scored 13 goals, which I did, and request you lool at the players that made $1.5M or less last year and see how many outscored Caggiula.
          Most of the players that scored in the 13 goal range and are overpaid were veteran players, with a long NHL history and were bad deals in free agency. How many of them were undrafted, undersized, college free agents that were destined for bottom 6 play and still RFAs. Find me the comparisons for that and you we will have a truer idea of what he should have been offered. Chiarelli should have had all the leverage and started by qualifying him and went from there. I don’t see the $1.5M as a gross overpay, I fully expected him to come in aroumd $1.25M. It’s the 2nd year for no reason. It limits the teams flexibility next year and sets a new bar for Aberg, Khaira, and Rattie’s next contracts.
          Unless the plan is to have Caggiula play in the top6 and get a pp push, both I don’t see happening, I don’t think there is a risk of him costing more next year so the extra year wasn’t needed.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    1.5 for a soldier is OK,… every team needs them (Vegas).
    Combined with the coaching changes and the fact that it’s his 3rd season, I can see how the team thinks he has an upside… He’ll have some incentive to work at it anyway & as the author states, his work ethic could get him a substantial raise…
    Was I the only one to stay up & watch every minute of that excellent game last night? Go Esks Go… I didn’t realize how much I was jonesing for CFL Football…?

      • Glencontrolurstik

        He’ll earn his 1.5. Just his improvement alone the last two years show that he’ll probably be worth more than Camalleri was last year to us.
        He has two seasons to prove it. Similar situations would cost the same in todays NHL I’m afraid..

  • rivid

    Matt Hendricks pointed out that this player was one of the worst players on the Oilers last year. Lets call it what it is a bad signing. There are many players the oilers could have signed who do more than Drake. All this talk of his potential always bothers me because most players dont live up to their contacts. Hopefully his game improves but this is a player that should be sent to the AHL to develop and improve his game. I think with that training he could be a useful player.

    • oilerjed

      Surprised he had time to trash Drake with all of the Russel bashing he was doing. Matt has a great talent for finding stats to suit his biases. You talk about “living up to his contract”…. Its 1.5 mil, he could seep in most days and still earn it. I am surprised with how negative such a minor signing is getting so much hate. People need to take it down a couple of notches.

  • 0W-20

    $1.5M/yr. is what bad teams pay for replacement level talent and is 100% reflective of terrible management. I don’t begrudge Drake for signing and taking the money. Chiarelli is a schlep and should get fired because he’s bad at his job.

  • Rama Lama

    Well if he could learn to skate, make plays, and shoot……..yes I agree he should be able to score.

    I will give him credit for leaving it all on the ice…….a young Todd Marchant in training!

  • crabman

    I have said on numerous occasions that I have time for Caggiula on my bottom6. I like how aggressive he plays and he can chip in some offence. But I don’t like the contract. I thought $1.25-1.3 for a single year should have done it. Even $1.5M×1 would have been better. My concern is exactly what the worse case scenario is. All our players that are in contract years, Rattie, Khaira, Aberg all out perform him and we are left trying to fit people on the roster and under the cap but we have Cagguila eating up a roster spot and $1.5M.

    Oh well deal is done, now I hope for the best. It would be great if they all had breakout years and our problem is ,how do we fit all these great players in? Highly unlikely, but one can dream.