Drake Caggiula wasn't expecting to be traded. He was playing video games with friends when he got a text from his agent that something might be going down.
"It definitely caught me off guard," said Caggiula, who was acquired by the Blackhawks on Dec. 30 for Brandon Manning and prospect Robin Norell. "It happened pretty quick and unexpectedly, but happy to be here and definitely excited about the opportunity."
Visa issues delayed his start date with the Blackhawks, but Caggiula finally got a chance to practice on Saturday with his new team and meet the guys for the first time. He skated with a junior team in Edmonton for the last week to keep his legs loose while he waited for the green light to come to Chicago.
And he's looking forward to this new opportunity after a roller coaster first half of the season with the Oilers.
"It was a little bit of a tough stretch there in Edmonton the last couple of weeks," Caggiula admitted. "I wasn't getting a lot of minutes coming off a hand injury. But that's not an excuse. It doesn't matter if you're playing five minutes or 25 minutes, you have to make sure you're playing your game. I wasn't disappointed in my game, but there are definitely areas I want to improve in and that's a little bit more of the consistency in the offensive sides of things — just being able to hold onto pucks and try and create more offensively."
Caggiula's best season came last year when he scored 13 goals and compiled 20 points in 67 games. He was linemates with former Blackhawks forward Nick Schmaltz at North Dakota, where he also played with Luke Johnson, both of whom he talked to after the trade.
Caggiula isn't going to light up the scoresheet, but he has the ability to produce on offense while also bringing a physical element to the game.
"High energy, fast-paced, gritty with a little bit of skill," Caggiula said when asked to describe his game. "I'm not the biggest guy out there, but I'm going to try and compete with the guys there that are bigger. I'm not intimidated by size or anything like that. I'm going to play a physical game, a hard game.
"I look at guys like [Brad] Marchand and Brendan Gallagher, and those are guys I try to model my game after. Not necessarily the same style, but a little bit similarities and hopefully I bring that here."
In his first practice, Caggiula skated on the fourth line with Chris Kunitz and Marcus Kruger. It appears the Blackhawks will ease him into the lineup. After all, this is his third head coach already this season and adjusting to another new system might take some time.
"I like that he's got a real high compete level and gritty, and will get in the dirty areas," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He's got a little bit of skill too, can play different forward positions, so that's exciting. That'll add a little depth and competition to our forward group. We'll see what he can do."
But if there's one thing that was evident, it's Caggiula's excitement level about playing for an Original Six franchise, donning the iconic Indianhead sweater and establishing his role with the team.
"It's Chicago Blackhawks," Caggiula said. "It's one of the best organizations in the league. It's been around for a long time. They have a history of winning here. You get to wear that awesome logo on your chest, I was able to wear that at North Dakota and that kind of brings me back to that roots. It's a great organization and they deal with their players very well and have a tradition of winning here, so it's definitely a special organization. I'm happy to be a part of it."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.