Drake Caggiula could be an impact player for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019-20.
Much of this offseason, and preseason, analysts have been eyeing the wing on the Chicago Blackhawks’ top line as a place where there would be much competition.
With the addition of young players like Alexander Nylander and Dominik Kubalik, as well as their analytics darling, in Dylan Sikura, many discounted the player that make an impact on that line last season, Drake Caggiula.
Shortly after, it would turn out that he would play a major role in the team’s resurgence towards the latter half of the season.
Although Caggiula was not a player who made a major impact on the score sheet (12 points in 26gms), he was able to give the Chicago Blackhawks’ top line an interesting dynamic. Caggiula was there to create space for the likes of Toews and Kane.
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Looking at Caggiula’s last season, if he were to play a full season, he would have likely netted himself around 34 points.
Of course, he did start to miss time with a concussion shortly after getting promoted to the top line.
If not for that concussion, Caggiula could have seen his stats explode playing with Kane and Toews.
I see Drake Caggiula as a similar player to the recently reacquired Andrew Shaw, a feisty player in a small package who goes to the dirty area, then parks himself in front of the net. He can get you that gritty goal when needed.
As we opened camp, much of the talk was around one of the youngsters taking a step, and pressure Caggiula for that top-line spot.
As camp progressed, it looked as though Caggiula had indeed lost his spot in that top line to the newcomer, Alexander Nylander, but that was until the 3rd period of the fourth preseason game.
Moves like this make me wonder if Caggiula won’t find his full-time spot back, alongside Kane/Toews, as the preseason progresses.
Nylander has shown flashes throughout the preseason with his playmaking ability and high-end skill, but it is still clear he has not rounded out his game. For Colliton, the reliability of Caggiula could win out in the end.
I think as training camp and the preseason progresses, we will need to see that improvement from Nylander if he hopes to keep that role in his clutches.
However, if Nylander falters, Colliton and the Blackhawks know they have someone in camp who is more than willing to jump into that role, with Caggiula.
Even if Drake Caggiula does not possess the skills of a player like Nylander, he has the track record to back him up where Nylander does not.
In a surprise twist at Monday’s practice, Caggiula found himself back on the top line, but not alongside Toews and Kane. He was alongside Toews and Nylander.
Now that will make others question if that is even the top line, but Caggiula is now back in the top-six and looks like he could get his chance to be that pest on a top line.