After the hoopla of admitting he has too many defensemen during his Day 1 of NHL free agency press conference on Wednesday evening, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall signed depth role player Drake Caggiula to a one-year, two-way contract on Wednesday night.
The deal pays $750,000 at the NHL level. To this point in his career, Caggiula has exclusively played in the NHL.
Caggiula was a formerly heralded college free agent from North Dakota (2012-2016), though his NHL career has not taken off. Out of college, he chose the Edmonton Oilers, and has since played for the Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, and spent the last two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres.
Concussions have also limited his career.
Caggiula, 28, played in 18 games with the Buffalo Sabres last season. He had five points (2-3-5) and was a minus-4.
In 278 NHL games, the forward with decent speed has 46 goals and 91 points. In his first two years in Edmonton, he was a secondary penalty killer, though subsequent teams have lessened his shorthanded role. Over the last three seasons, Caggiula has played between 23 and 26 minutes shorthanded per season.
Caggiula adds an interesting fourth-line option for head coach Mike Sullivan and will likely compete with Penguins prospects such as Drew O’Connor, Radim Zohorna, and Filip Hallander for a spot in the lineup.
From the Pittsburgh Penguins’ release
The undrafted forward’s best NHL season came in 2017-18 with Edmonton when he recorded career highs in games played (67), goals (13) and points (20).
The 5-foot-10, 176-pound forward has suited up for 21 career NHL playoff games, recording four goals, two assists and six points.
Prior to turning professional, the Pickering, ON native played at the University of North Dakota from 2012-16. In 162 career collegiate games, Caggiula tallied 62 goals, 65 assists and 127 points. As an alternate captain in 2015-16, he helped North Dakota to the National Championship and was named the tournament’s MVP and to the All-Tournament Team.