Per release, the Edmonton Oilers have re-signed F Drake Caggiula to a two-year extension. Capfriendly.com indicates Caggiula was arbitration eligible this summer, so perhaps this is a case of the Oilers trying to secure his services before it came to that. But what for? Caggiula is by most metrics among the worst Oilers forwards and, while he tries hard, and he chose Edmonton, it’s almost certainly time to let another team watch him try to figure it out. Through two seasons as a professional, Caggiula’s boxcars sit at a modest 20-18-38 in 127GP.
Caggiula began his NHL career as the Oilers third line centre which, perhaps predictably, went poorly. The Oilers were pretty consistently being outshot, outchanced, and outscored with Caggiula on the ice. He saw time as a penalty killer as well, and failed to impress. Of course, the team’s results were generally excellent, and Caggiula was a rookie, so there was a lot of rope for a guy like him to find his way. He also managed to chip in three playoff goals in that magical run two years ago in which the Oilers won one whole series after overachieving for a few months.
This year was not as kind to the second-year forward, with his role on the team as inconsistent as his results, seeing time on a number of lines and on both wings. He wasn’t really able to improve his output however, and his underlying metrics virtually across the board were of a player who was in over his head. ‘He’d be fast enough to stay in the league if he was good enough to stay in the league’, is what I thought come April.
And yet here we are in June, the Oilers are still facing a pretty serious cap crunch, and Chiarelli is out here giving two-years and a contract spot to a forward that Jonathan Willis (paywall) suggests is no more than a fourth line LW at this point.
All that said, I really do like the thinking behind signing guys like Caggiula initially. In fact, I mentioned it last week when I covered the Other Vesey deal. Caggiula was coming off an excellent season in college (granted, he was beside Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz, but he was also there too) and a few NHL teams were interested. His numbers as an underclassman underwhelmed, but his senior season was genuinely good and there was some fanfare around his decision to pick the Oilers. He put pen to paper for two years at an AAV of around $1.35MM, we get to see what he’s got. No harm, no foul.
But then you spend two years seeing him not meet the expectations perhaps all parties had, you have the clean and simple option of not re-signing him, not sending him a QO, and then you still sign him!? For two more years?! This is firmly a bad idea for me, and serves as another signal that the Oilers probably just don’t get it. They should be looking for the next Caggiula fresh out of college, and hoping that he doesn’t become the next Caggiula two years later. These bottom few roster spots should be a revolving door of good young players you either move up your lineup, trade because you can’t, or lose because you can afford to. It’s hard to see the merit in this signing, folks.