According to reports, the Arizona Coyotes are set to sign physical free-agent forward Drake Caggiula to a one-year contract.
Per Arizona Sports 98.7FM’s John Gambadoro, the Coyotes are close on a one-year deal with the former Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks forward.
The 26-year-old Pickering, Ontario native would bring with him 220 NHL regular season appearances, with 41 goals and 76 total points across his four-year professional career.
Originally undrafted, the 5-foot-10, 176lbs left winger had an impressive four years in the NCAA with the University of North Dakota - where he racked up 127 total points (62 goals, 65 assists) in 162 appearances, leading the Fighting Hawks to an NCAA championship in his final year.
Since entering the NHL, Caggiula has carved out a niche for himself as a physical bottom-six player that players above his size, throwing 460 hits across his professional career with a further 94 shot blocks.
These are traits that Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet covets and new GM Bill Armstrong has made a concerted effort to bring in more players of this ilk so far this off-season, with the arrivals of Tyler Pitlick, Johan Larsson, and John Hayden bringing a new look to the team’s depth options.
With NHL teams allowed a taxi squad of four-to-six players, it’s understandable that some teams will seek to add NHL depth and experience that can accompany the team in training and on the road.
For the Coyotes, however, Caggiula has a legitimate shot at making the team out of training camp, competing for a bottom-six role with the likes of Dryden Hunt, who has far less NHL experience or pedigree.
If Caggiula is signed by the team, it would be reasonable to expect him to feature on the NHL roster once the season rolls around in January, otherwise, he will be another player that will need to pass through waivers to be placed on the taxi squad.
Having the physical Canadian on board could allow the team to keep one, or more, of their AHL regulars in the minors so that they continue to play meaningful hockey throughout the shortened season, rather than being kept on the sidelines.
An official announcement has yet to be made by the Arizona Coyotes regarding this rumor, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has reported on Twitter that the deal could be for $700,000, allowing his cap hit to be buried if he can’t claim a roster spot, while also being cheap enough to fit him onto the NHL roster after Marian Hossa’s contract is placed on LTIR.
UPDATE: Looks like it is official.
Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong confirmed the signing of former Chicago Blackhawks F Drake Caggiula.— José M. Romero (@RomeroJoseM) December 21, 2020