Drake Caggiula is the Swiss Army Knife of the Blackhawks. He does a little bit of everything and he doesn’t get enough credit for it.
When the Blackhawks acquired Drake Caggiula in exchange for Brandon Manning, it was seen as a win because Manning was no longer the Blackhawks’ problem. Eventually, we would learn the trade was a win for other reasons as well.
The Drake Caggiula Effect
The addition of Caggiula gave Jeremy Colliton more flexibility for line combinations. This was evident when he played alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the 1st line.
Caggiula willingly took on the role of board battle master. This freed Toews up to be more of a contributor on offense. Kane would have a field day with the matchups Caggiula created for himself and Toews. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane had career years, and part of that can be attributed to the play of Drake Caggiula.
The Caggiula-Toews-Kane line produced a lot of scoring chances and mismatches during the 2018-19 season. According to Dobber’s Frozen Tools, here’s the breakdown of points scored by each player on that line:
- Caggiula scored 9 of his 23 points (39.1%)
- Toews scored 9 of his 81 points (11.1%)
- Kane scored 12 of his 110 points (10.9%)
Before Caggiula sustained his concussion, the Blackhawks went 12-7-2 from January 6-February 27. During this stretch, the team was much more balanced and well rounded. The goals for to goals against ratio was 91 GF to 83 GA.
Caggiula, Toews, and Kane would have a great run as well:
- Caggiula scored 7 points (4G, 3A) with a 1 ± rating
- Toews scored 29 points (13G, 16A) with a 6 ± rating
- Kane scored 43 points (17G, 26A) with a 9 ± rating
After Caggiula went down with a concussion on February 27th, the Blackhawks would go 7-5-1. The goals for to goals against ratio suffered, as it fell even, to 37 GF and 37 GA. Toews and Kane would fall back down to Earth:
- Toews scored 10 points (4G, 6A) with a -3 ± rating
- Kane scored 10 points (1G, 9A) with a 0 ± rating
Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken
Although there will be some new faces on the team next season, Jeremy Colliton should stick with what worked this past season. The Caggiula-Toews-Kane line is obviously one of the few things that actually worked.
In order to have a successful NHL team, it starts at the top. The top line has to produce and overpower the opponent’s top line. When you have that, you begin to see a trickle-down effect. Other players start to buy in and feed off of that success. Synergy and team chemistry are extremely important. It will be interesting to see how things pan out during training camp and preseason games. Is It October yet?