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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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!