Blackhawks 2019-20 Regular Season Recap: F Drake Caggiula

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Caggiula missed nearly half of the regular season due to a concussion, but the scrappy forward was productive when healthy for the Blackhawks.

On December 30, 2018, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired forward Drake Caggiula and defenseman Jason Garrison from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defensemen Brandon Manning and Robin Norell, a move that wound up playing a significant role in the firing of then Oilers’ general manager Peter Chiarelli. On the other end, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman was praised for the move, as not only was he able to shed his biggest mistake from the previous summer, the Brandon Manning contract, but he was also able to nab an effective top-nine winger in Caggiula.

After the trade, Caggiula went on to play in 26 games for the Blackhawks in the 2018-19 regular season, finishing with five goals and seven assists for 12 points. Not only was Caggiula producing offensively, but he was also one of the only physical forwards on the team with 56 hits in his 26 games. The University of North Dakota graduate’s versatility was one of the main reasons why the Hawks were so high on him heading into 2019-20.

But Caggiula was not able to carry over the momentum from last season, as he only had four points (3G, 1A) in the opening 15 games this year before suffering a concussion on Nov. 10 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The injury kept the 26-year-old forward out of the Blackhawks lineup for two months, but Caggiula finally returned on Jan. 9 against the Nashville Predators at the United Center.

Caggiula went on to have a much better second half of the season, as in the final 25 games before the COVID-19 outbreak, he recorded six goals and five assists for 11 points. In total, the Pickering, Ontario native tallied 15 points (9G, 6A) in 40 games played, which would put him on pace for 31 points in a full 82-game season. Caggiula will likely be a high-30s to low-40s point producer at best in his NHL career, so that is right around what you expect from him.

Looking at some of Caggiula’s other statistics, and a few that stood out were his 81 hits and career-high 16.1 shooting percentage. Even though he played in just 40 games, Caggiula was still sixth on the Hawks in hits, and his average of 2.02 hits per game was among the highest on the team. As for his shooting percentage, Caggiula finished second on the Blackhawks behind only Dominik Kubalik (19.1 percent) and was ranked 37th in the NHL (out of players with at least 40 games played). His 11:49 average time on ice this year should increase in the 2020 postseason considering those numbers.

As for Caggiula’s top performance of the 2019-20 regular season, that likely came on Jan. 18 against the Maple Leafs in a bit of a redemption game. In just his fifth game back in the lineup, Caggiula picked up his second consecutive multi-point effort with a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks dominant 6-2 road victory. Caggiula also finished with 3 hits, 2 blocks, and a +3 plus/minus rating while skating with Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik on the top line.

Overall, Caggiula was productive during his limited time with the Blackhawks this season. His physical style of play combined with underrated offensive abilities makes him such a diverse weapon, and his ability to be slotted up and down the lineup is a tremendous luxury for the Hawks. Caggiula spent the majority of his season bouncing between the first and third lines, but the expectation is that he will begin on the Blackhawks third line for the potential best-of-five play-in series against the Edmonton Oilers. That is exactly where he skated at the Blackhawks’ first training camp session on Monday, alongside rookies Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander.

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