Drake Caggiula said tonight would be a dream come true as he suited up for his first NHL game.
It's pretty safe to say the 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars lived up to those expectations.
The 22-year-old University of North Dakota product executed a beautiful saucer pass to set up Tyler Pitlick's goal in the first period. Just 11:36 into his NHL career, Caggiula had his first point in the bank.
His final stat-line on the night showed one assist, one hit and a +1 rating in 12:49, which included 1:22 on the PP and 2:33 on the PK. Caggiula got an exemplary review from his coach.
"Drake gave us exactly what we needed from him," said Todd McLellan. "A spark, some speed, he got in on the scoresheet and we were able to use him on the penalty kill on a night where we took too many penalties. Happy for him to get the start that he got tonight and come into the lineup on a winning game."
The off-season free-agent signing got his "welcome to the big show" moment at the start of pre-game warmup. As is tradition with rookies playing their first game, his teammates let him take the ice first and waited in the tunnel so he could skate his first lap all by himself and relish the moment.
"I got a bit of a heads-up that was going to happen," he laughed. "You see it on TV all the time. It's a pretty cool tradition to be a part of."
Having missed a month and a half of game action after suffering a hip injury during preseason, Caggiula admitted he has some catching up to do.
"I don't think I had the typical jump that I normally would," he said. "That's what happens when you miss six weeks or so. Those things will come. Sometimes your play is just a little bit off and your mind is just a half-second slow. The more you play, the more confident you're going to get and the better you're going to be."