Why Bowman and the Hawks need to re-sign Drake Caggiula

USA Today

While Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and co. figure out if pending unrestricted free agent Corey Crawford will be a part of the Hawks' future, forward Drake Caggiula's status and hashing out a way to keep him in Chicago shouldn't be too far behind on the team's offseason to do list.

The 26-year-old forward, who plays a wrecking ball style game, is set to become a restricted free agent when the playoffs finish up. 

Caggiula finished the postseason with a three-game point streak, picking up a goal and two assists against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before the Hawks were eliminated following Tuesday's Game 5 loss.

The feisty winger had 15 points (nine goals, six assists) during the 2019-20 regular season, but missed a lot of time after being placed in concussion protocol for the second time in less than two years.

Since coming to Hawks in late December of 2018 after being acquired from the Oilers — who signed the undrafted forward in May of 2016 — Caggiula has displayed an ability to generate offense and play up and down the lineup, as well as to provide sandpaper when it's needed.

Caggiula further proved he can play on any line and sport some offensive flair when he was put with Kirby Dach and Patrick Kane for Game 5 vs. the Knights.

In the Blackhawks' final outing of the season, late in the second period Caggiula made a play to keep the puck in Vegas' zone then put a nice pass on Patrick Kane's tape in the slot to allow Kane to work some magic on Robin Lehner and make it 3-2 Hawks. Chicago went on to lose the contest 4-3 in regulation and drop the series 4-1, ending their year.


With his hard-nosed game, that saw him get suspended for Game 2 of the qualifying round series against the Oilers due to an illegal check to the head of Edmonton forward Tyler Ennis, Caggiula's style of play has drawn comparisons to Andrew Shaw's. 

It's fair to associate the two. Both are energy players that can play anywhere in the lineup and possess an undeniable scoring touch.

Shaw's last game with the Hawks, before being placed on concussion protocol, was on Nov. 30. He recently said he plans on returning for next season as he's almost fully healed from his last concussion as well as prior ones. 

Caggiula's future with the Hawks shouldn't be contingent on Shaw's. Both players could have a big impact on the 2020-21 Blackhawks and their prospects of making a deeper playoff run next year. 

Hopefully Bowman is able to work Caggiula and his game into the Hawks' future plans.

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