NCAA standout Drake Caggiula has been looking for an NHL home ever since the University of North Dakota won the national championship in April. On Saturday, the Edmonton Oilers announced his signing.
The Oilers would be receive a speedy forward who seems prepared to make an immediate impact at the NHL level. Playing on NCAA hockey’s top line this past season with Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz, Caggiula was the nation’s eighth leading scorer with 51 points (25 goals, 26 assists) in 39 games.
It had been speculated that Caggiula may have been on the verge with signing with the Vancouver Canucks, who also own the rights to Boeser, their top choice in the 2015 draft. Although upwards of 10 NHL teams had been rumored to have shown interest in the 21-year-old winger, he chose Edmonton, where he’ll join one of the most talented groups of young forwards in the league.
Caggiula’s decision is an especially notable win for the Oilers, who had struggled attracting NCAA free agents of this level over the past few years.
Caggiula became such a hot commodity for NHL teams because, despite never being drafted, he improved his offensive numbers in every season at North Dakota and had a knack for scoring in big situations. He solidified this reputation by scoring two goals in the championship-clinching game against Quinnipiac last month, being named the NCAA championship’s most outstanding player.