When he arrived in Chicago following a December trade with the Edmonton Oilers, Drake Caggiula was still unproven at the NHL level. The former North Dakota star had gone from sought-after college prospect to struggling for minutes in Edmonton.
In exchange for shipping defenseman Brandon Manning to the Oilers, Caggiula was a toss at the dartboard from Blackhawks SVP/General Manager Stan Bowman. During Sunday's end-of-season press conference, the move sure seemed like a bullseye.
"Drake's been a great addition," Bowman said. "He's probably in the running for being our smallest player, but he plays like our biggest player. I just love his style. He's hard to play against and he does things that a lot of guys don't want to do as far as forechecking, finishing his hits, going to the net and doing a lot of the dirty work so that other guys can reap the rewards."
Caggiula struggled with injuries during his first season in Chicago, making just 26 appearances in a Blackhawks sweater. Still, his contributions were part of a second-half surge from the Blackhawks, who went 14-8-4 with Caggiula on the ice this season.
"I love his game. I thought he was a big part of our progression in the second half and we certainly missed him when he wasn't there," Bowman said. "We did OK for a little bit without him and then his absence was missed. He's a fine player and we're happy he's on our side."