The Chicago Blackhawks depth shone through on Wednesday against the Montreal Canadians and at the center of that was the recently returning Drake Caggiula.
This season has been one where the injury bug has been an issue for the Chicago Blackhawks losing players like Brandon Saad, Dylan Strome, Duncan Keith, Calvin de Haan, and Andrew Shaw for an extended time. One of the more forgotten injuries of the year was that of Drake Caggiula who went down with a concussion in November, his second in a calendar year, and many questioned what the future held for the 25-year-old winger.
After making his return to the lineup a couple of days ago Caggiula looked like his old self in a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadians where he recorded and assist, a goal and found himself up and down the line up all game. Games like last night truly highlight the value of a player like Caggiula who plays a gritty game but also can chip in offensively and plays just a well rounded game.
Caggiula, who was acquired in a fleecing of the Edmonton Oilers, has worn a lot of hats with the Blackhawks; from top-line wing to fourth-line grinder to penalty killer to net-front presence. Players of Caggiula’s ilk can be underappreciated in what they mean for a team’s confidence and overall mentality.
In Caggiula’s case, every shift he hits the ice he lays everything he has out on the ice, he is driven to will his team into winning even if he doesn’t possess all the tools to make that happen. No fan is ever going to watch Caggiula’s game and say he took a shift off here or there, he is committed for the entire 60 minutes something that the Blackhawks have struggled with constantly this season.
Looking at the play above from last nights win, Caggiula made that entire play happen on his own with a slick strip at the blue line and a wicked snipe from the left slot Caggiula is not just some bottom-six plug, he gives you way more than that and it is difficult to define. Starting the last few games on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik he has been moved up down and sideways with Colliton utilizing a new “nuclear” option of Toews, Kubalik and Patrick Kane.
Even with the movement throughout the lineup Caggiula was still able to make the best out of every situation he stepped on the ice, the consummate team player and happy to just be on the ice no matter the role he is given. That is what makes Caggiula so valuable to the Blackhawks, he is the kind of player who is going to have a major role when games become tighter and you need production from throughout your line up.
As we have seen in the small sample size from his return Caggiula looks to have found the play that made him so valuable in their playoff push last year playing alongside Toews and Kane. Now with new top-line emerging, Caggiula can provide the rest of the Blackhawks with a spark it desperately needs.