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preseason

5 things learned from Sept. 28 preseason games

Oilers' Drake Caggiula steals the show, Tristan Jarry stakes claim to job with Penguins

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Caggiula scores twice in win

EDM@VAN: Caggiula nets two in 5-3 win against Oilers

Drake Caggiula scores two goals in the first period of the Canucks 5-3 win against the Oilers

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Now that the 15-day, 106-game preseason schedule has begun, it's time to take a closer look at the players, teams and stories that are making headlines in the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season Oct. 12.

Here are five things we learned from the preseason games Wednesday:

Caggiula connects: Edmonton Oilers rookie forward Drake Caggiula stole the show on a night when most eyes were on the new top line of Connor McDavid, Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle.

Caggiula, 22, scored two goals in a 5-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Caggiula played 15:05 and had four shots on goal.

After leading the University of North Dakota to the 2016 NCAA championship, Caggiula signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Oilers on May 7.

"He's come to make the team. He's come to take somebody's job," Oilers coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Sun. "I'm getting more and more confident in playing him every night in any situation. He's a very competitive guy, controls the pace of a shift, competes all over the rink, pays the price to get things done.

"He's not afraid. There's no fear going on the ice and being around the veteran players. He's taking charge and he's ready to play when the puck is dropped. Some others could follow his lead."

 

Early backup for Fleury?: There's a chance goaltender Tristan Jarry might serve as the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury with the Pittsburgh Penguins if Matt Murray isn't fully recovered from a broken hand by the time the regular season begins Oct. 13.

Murray, injured playing for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, is expected to miss 3-6 weeks.

Jarry, 21, made 30 saves in a 2-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. 

"[Jarry's play] is really encouraging," coach Mike Sullivan told the Penguins website. "I think we're all excited about Tristan's potential and he has the ability to be a real good goalie. He handles the puck extremely well. When he adds that element to his game, I think it helps the defensemen."

A second-round pick (No. 44) in the 2013 NHL Draft, Jarry made his professional debut last season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate. His only NHL experience is two games as the backup to Jeff Zatkoff to begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

 

Konecny playing for keeps: Philadelphia Flyers right wing prospect Travis Konecny made the most of playing alongside two veterans, left wing Michael Raffl and center Brayden Schenn. He had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 defeat of the New Jersey Devils at PPL Center in Allentown, Pa.

In addition to scoring his first goal of the preseason, Konecny (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) also was generating good scoring chances whenever he was on the ice.

"I'm not trying to look too far ahead," Konecny told Philly.com. "I'm living in the moment right now and working hard every day. Do whatever I can on and off the ice and let the rest take care of itself."

Konecny, 19, was chosen by the Flyers with the 24th pick of the 2015 draft. He had 30 goals and 101 points in 60 games with Ottawa and Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League last season. If he doesn't make the Flyers, he would be returned to Sarnia for another season of development.

 

Coreau making an impression: Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jared Coreau is out to prove he should be considered a solid future option.

The undrafted Coreau (6-4, 235 pounds), signed to a two-year contract July 6, took a good first step in that process when he made 35 saves in a 5-1 defeat of the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. It was his first complete NHL game.

"He's a [big] goaltender who has gotten an extreme amount better since he got to Grand Rapids [AHL]," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told the Detroit Free Press. "He looks like an NHL goalie. His biggest improvement is learning how to use his size and calming his game down. Now he's much calmer. He lets the puck come to him."

Coreau, 24, went 29-15-2 last season with a .922 save percentage and 2.43 goals-against average in 47 games with Grand Rapids.

 

Smith pushes for spot: Colorado Avalanche forward Ben Smith is hoping his fourth NHL stop in the past three seasons will be his last for a while.

Smith, who has played for the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs since 2014-15, was an unrestricted free agent when he signed a one-year contract with the Avalanche on Aug. 16. He scored the decisive goal in a 4-2 win against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center.

"I'm just looking to prove myself," Smith, 28, told the Denver Post. "That's the main thing. Try and prove what I can do, try to be an everyday player and try to make this team. That's what I'm focusing on right now, doing everything I can to get here."

Smith had two goals and 16 points in 22 games with the Sharks and Maple Leafs last season. In 197 NHL games with the Blackhawks, Sharks and Maple Leafs, he has 27 goals and 50 points.

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