Ahead of the 2018-19 season, EdmontonOilers.com is taking a look back at the '17-18 individual performances of the Oilers in our series 'Roster Redux'
EDMONTON, AB - Not only will Drake Caggiula be entering the 2018-19 campaign with a few fresh pearly whites, the Oilers forward will be coming in with a new contract and blank slate.
The 5-foot-10 forward, who agreed to terms on a two-year pact with the Oilers on June 14, also enters the campaign with knowledge of what areas of his game he needs to improve after a self-admitted "up-and-down" year that saw the Pickering, ON, native notch 13 goals and seven assists for 20 total points in 67 games - six strikes and two points more than he compiled as a rookie.
Video: RAW | Caggiula Exit Interview
"Consistency is probably the biggest thing," Caggiula said in his exit interview with one of his two front teeth still missing after taking a puck to the face on Feb. 9. "There were times when I thought I was playing great and then there were times when I got into a slump and couldn't find a way out of it."
Caggiula did indeed have his difficulties with consistency in 2017-18. The 24-year-old accrued six-, seven- and nine-game stretches without a point during the season. That discrepancy is at the top of his agenda for 2018-19.
"I have to find a way to end those slumps a lot earlier and find a way to crawl out of those holes without dwelling on it," he said.
But Caggiula did undergo marginal improvements as a sophomore. The former North Dakota star increased his goal and point totals, shot output and percentage, and threw his weight around more frequently. Caggiula went from 93 shots on goal in '16-17 to 104 in '17-18, finding twine 12.5 percent of the time. He went from 97 hits in his rookie year to 147, playing - for the most part - a bottom six role on the wing as opposed to up the middle.
"I think I finished strong. The last 15 games or so I had a strong finish and played some of my best hockey," Caggiula, who had four goals and one assist in his final 10 games, said.
"I increased my goal scoring this year, which was something I wanted to do but I had a lot more opportunities to score. Hopefully next season I can cash in on more of them."
Video: TRUE BLUE | The Sophomores
A more defined role on the club and a routine set of linemates, Caggiula believes, should assist with that.
"I think finding a home and finding a consistent spot in the lineup allows you to play more consistently," he said. "I think that will go a long way and will help my overall game."
The forward is tempering individual expectations, though. Development curves are different for all players and Caggiula knows that.
"You obviously want to improve every year but for people to think that you're just going to take these massive jumps, I don't know if it's not realistic but there are select few players that can really take those big jumps," he said. "There are still parts of my game I need to work on and get better at but I think I did take steps forward this year."
So, what quantifiable jump does Caggiula think he can sustain in the new season?
"Hopefully I can get up to that 20 to 20-plus goal range. With the amount of opportunities I had this year, I think I'm definitely capable of doing it."