The Edmonton Oilers may not have won the draft lottery, but it appears they’ve won the sweepstakes for top NCAA free agent Drake Caggiula.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Friday evening that Caggiula, 21, will be signing with Edmonton after a weeks-long process that saw him visit more than half a dozen teams in determining where he would sign his entry-level deal. Throughout much of Friday, it was reported both the Oilers and Canucks were close to signing the University of North Dakota product, but McKenzie stated that Vancouver was told they wouldn’t land Caggiula shortly before he chose Edmonton.
In signing Caggiula, the Oilers land one of the NCAA’s top scorers from the 2015-16 campaign. Caggiula scored 25 goals and 51 points for North Dakota this past season, and 62 goals and 127 points in 162 career games in the NCAA. He was especially impressive in the Frozen Four tournament this season, though. Caggiula scored six goals and seven points in North Dakota’s four victories, including two goals in the final as UND won its first national title since 2000, and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
It was reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that Caggiula also visited the Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, and the New York Rangers were also reportedly in the mix, according to The Grand Forks Herald’s Brad Schlossman. This is a big get for the Oilers, and Caggiula is a player who can likely help the team as soon as the 2016-17 season.
One of the only knocks against Caggiula may be his size. At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, he’s not exactly a power forward, but he more than makes up for that in both speed and skill. Over the course of the past season, Caggiula made highlight reels across the nation with a few spectacular tallies. One of his best of the year came against Alabama Huntsville.
There’s no telling where Caggiula projects to play, but he’ll no doubt have a great chance of making the Oilers roster next season. He likely would have made the roster of many of the NHL teams pursuing him, but Edmonton can almost guarantee him his spot. That’s not to mention he’ll have the chance to play on a roster with Connor McDavid and an Oilers team that may finally, after years of struggling, turn things around.
UPDATE: The Oilers announced Saturday afternoon they have inked Caggiula to a two-year, entry-level deal. Terms of the deal have not yet been released.