This is where Peter Chiarelli really messed up in this deal, which is something he often does. Much like Arizona did with Dylan Strome, I think Edmonton gave up on Drake Caggiula too early. The Oilers don’t have great forward depth outside McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins, and they just got rid of more.
An undrafted free agent out of college, Caggiula was a hot commodity after his stint with the University of North Dakota where he won the NCAA National Championship in 2016. On a line with former Blackhawk Nick Schmaltz and Vancouver’s Brock Boeser, he recorded 51 points in 39 games during his senior season. Many scouts touted him as a two-way forward with speed and an aggressive game.
Unfortunately, he did not live up to the hype in Edmonton. He only has 49 points in 156 NHL games. And while he’s played a bunch of games with McDavid, he’s also played with guys like Ryan Strome and Milan Lucic. Neither of those players are going to have ample scoring chances. His Corsi-for percentage is under 50, but that also comes with being on the Oilers.
I think Caggiula has more to him than what he showed on the Oilers. With the right linemates, he can be an effective third or fourth liner. He’s good on the forecheck and tenacious on the puck. Caggiula is a young forward who gives the Blackhawks more depth than they currently have, and that’s what makes this a win for Chicago.
This might be harsh, but Jason Garrison is basically just a throw-in piece of this deal. The 34-year-old defenseman is at the tail end of his career and has been looking for a steady spot in a lineup ever since Vegas selected him from Tampa Bay in their expansion draft.
In 17 games this season with Edmonton, Garrison has only recorded one point: a goal. Last year, he only played eight games in the NHL and spent most of his time in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. A top-four defenseman who twice recorded 33 points found himself quickly losing his skills and trying to reinvent his game.
Despite earning a contract of a PTO, he still can’t figure himself out again. Garrison has severely struggled the last few years in every statistical category possible. He can’t rack up points like he used to, his Corsi-for percentage has dropped every year, and he’s allowing too many high-danger scoring chances.
If he couldn’t find a spot in the Oilers’ lineup every game, I’d be very surprised if he finds himself in the Blackhawks’ lineup at all. The team already waived him to send him down to Rockford. It’s easier to bury a guy making $650,000 for one year than one making $2.25 million for the next two.
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This trade can be a sign that the Chicago Blackhawks are fully prepared for there to be competition for spots on the blue line at next year’s training camp. Jokiharju has already earned a spot this season. Adam Boqvist, Ian Mitchell, and Nicolas Beaudin will all be vying for positions next year. Chicago’s defense has the chance to greatly improve in the near future and fans should be excited about that.
Fans can also be excited about the team’s general manager not being the worst in the league. While Stan Bowman has made very questionable moves in recent memory, a trade like this shows he can fix some of the mistakes he makes. He may not be as good as people claim he is, but Bowman can still fleece teams when given the opportunity. The two deals he’s made this season highlight just that.