Photo Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
The Vancouver Canucks are believed to be one of the last two teams standing in the Drake Caggiula sweepstakes, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
The 21-year-old forward played on a line with top Canucks prospect Brock Boeser and Chicago Blackhawks first-round pick Nick Schmaltz for the North Dakota Fighting Hawks this past season, scoring 25 goals and adding 51 total points as a winger on the vaunted ‘CBS line’. He’s been on a 10-team tour of prospective NHL cities over the past few weeks and met with Canucks brass in Vancouver prior to the Draft Lottery.
The Canucks and the Oilers are believed to be the final two teams in the mix.
Caggiula is an intriguing prospect, but we should temper our enthusiasm in evaluating him. Considering the quality of his line mates and the fact that he wasn’t a point per game player in NCAA hockey until his senior season, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note the likelihood that the Pickering, Ontario native benefitted from being placed in favourable circumstances this past season.
Some players with a similar college track record do develop into impactful NHL players – Rich Peverely comes to mind. Recent hockey history is also littered with names like Brett Sterling and John Pohl though, highly regarded NCAA prospects who produced at a similar rate to Caggiula and ended up as quality AAAA players, but not impactful NHL regulars.
The Canucks seem to be aware that Caggiula isn’t a slam dunk future star. After the club signed Thatcher Demko in April, I asked Jim Benning about going after other NCAA free agents and mentioned Michael Garteig (who the club signed) and Caggiula specifically.
“We’re looking at different players,” Benning answered at the time, “we want to try to add to the prospect depth of our organization.”
And that’s really what this is about. Caggiula would add depth to the Canucks’ prospect pool and would represent a somewhat low-leverage lottery ticket. Basically it’s like adding a free fourth- or fifth-round pick.
There are reasons to like what Caggiula can bring too though. He’s fast, young and skilled and he’s familiar with both Boeser and recently signed NCAA free agent Troy Stecher.
“He played with Brock Boeser all year,” Benning said in April. “They’re familiar with each other and they play well together. We’re going to go through the process with him and see where it ends up.”
It looks like it has ended up with the Canucks on Caggiula’s short list. Based on the identity of those teams – the Oilers and the Canucks – we can assume that the 21-year-old is looking at joining organizations where he might have a realistic shot at cracking an NHL roster in the next couple of years.
Sometimes for a player in Caggiula’s shoes it’s about fit, as much as it is about team quality or the performance bonuses a club is willing to give a player on en entry-level contract. Even so, landing Caggiula with so much other competition in the mix, would be a good look for the Canucks’ recruitment efforts.
Many expect Caggiula’s signing decision to come down later on Friday, although it could stretch into the weekend. Stay tuned.