NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the 2019 Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET from Notre Dame Stadium on Tuesday. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
By Jay Cohen, (AP Sports Writer)
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has been interested in Drake Caggiula for a while.
He finally got his man.
Chicago acquired Caggiula and defenseman Jason Garrison in a trade with Edmonton on Sunday for defensemen Brandon Manning and Robin Norell. Caggiula will report to the Blackhawks once he resolves a visa issue, while Garrison is headed to the minors if he clears waivers.
The 24-year-old Caggiula played college hockey at North Dakota with former Blackhawks forward Nick Schmaltz and Luke Johnson, a minor leaguer with Chicago. Bowman said he tried to sign Caggiula before he opted for Edmonton instead.
”We didn’t get him then, but we followed his progress over the last couple years, and I love the way he plays,” Bowman said Monday in his first public comments on the deal. ”I think he’s going to complement our team. He’s another young forward that brings a lot of energy.”
Caggiula has seven goals and four assists in 29 games this season. He had a career-best 13 goals in 67 games last year.
”He’s got that combination, he plays pretty intense – he’s a smaller guy, but you wouldn’t know it the way he plays,” Bowman said. ”Obviously he was a prolific scorer in college, so he’s got the ability to contribute offensively, he’s versatile, plays wing, plays center, so when we had an opportunity to make the deal, I thought we had to take advantage of it.”
The Blackhawks play the Boston Bruins in the Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium on Tuesday. Bowman said they are hoping to have Caggiula’s visa issue resolved by the end of the week.
After hiring Ken Hitchcock earlier this season the Edmonton Oilers went on a brief, Connor McDavid-driven hot streak that made it look like they might be turning their season around.
Now that they have followed that up by losing six games in a row, and seven out of their past eight, they are once again on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture and looking like another season of McDavid’s prime is on the verge of being completely wasted.
In response, general manager Peter Chiarelli has attempted to go into job-saving mode and spent Sunday frantically rearranging the deck chairs on his sinking ship by making a pair of trades to address his team’s horrendous blue line.
The Brandon Manning that ended Connor McDavid’s rookie season on a play that resulted in the two players developing some pretty significant beef with one another, including McDavid calling Manning “classless” a year later.
Just a quick refresher on all of that here…
Now they are on the same team. As an added layer to the absurdity McDavid, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug noted on Twitter that McDavid and Caggiula (the player that was just traded for a player that broke McDavid’s collarbone and that McDavid called classless) were really close.
A side note to this trade, Caggiula and McDavid were close. Caggiula just got traded for Manning who was involved in the play that injured McDavid his rookie season.
In the end, all the Oilers got out of it was a couple of players that might — might — be an upgrade on their third defense pairing. It is nobody that is going to make a meaningful difference for this team in its current position. That is what makes it so absolutely incredible that one of the players they happened to trade for is one that their franchise player has a history with on — and off — the ice. Even if that issue is in the past the optics of it all are incredibly bad. It’s like the roster transaction version of whatever it was that happened in Dallas this past week, where management does something to purposely anger its best player.
This move also follows the most recent demotion of Vadim Shipachyov, who could end up involved in a trade out of Sin City.
Garrison’s been in quite a decline since 2014-15, his first season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s stayed pretty healthy, but his production has dropped from 30 points in ’14-15 to 11, 9 and down to one this season. He’s only suited up for four games after being one of Vegas’ expansion draft picks and averaged 18:53 of ice time per night.
His booming shot could help a power play and given he’s in the final year of his deal, that would make him an attractive pickup for another club (along with his $2.5 million salary), as opposed to Shipachyov, who’s on a two-year deal.
Vegas has an abundance of blue liners in their organization, but it’s clear general manager George McPhee was unable to flip one of this defensive assets hence Friday’s moves. One quote he gave on Thursday referring to Shipachyov’s status could apply to Garrison, 32, in this case.
Via Sin Bin Vegas: “Unfortunately, we have a lot of players here, and we have certain people that have really blossomed and are playing extremely well right now, and they deserve to be in the lineup.”
Allow this hot take: while the wins and points are likely to dry up – to at least some extent – there’s one thing that shouldn’t go away for this edition of the Vegas Golden Knights: motivation. For better or worse, we’ve rarely seen an NHL team brimming with so many players fighting for careers, reputations, and millions of dollars.
If the bottom falls out as far as the standings go, it will still be interesting to follow these situations. Contending teams may feel the same way during the trade deadline, at least when it comes to Vegas’ many expiring contracts.
With that in mind, let’s break down this roster to examine the not-so-quiet desperation in Vegas.
If you want a quick look at how open-ended the Golden Knights’ future is at the moment, consider their spending this season vs. in the future.
By Cap Friendly’s numbers, the Golden Knights are committed to a $70.87 million cap hit in 2017-18; that number goes down to $36.92M to 14 players in 2018-19 as of this moment.
James Neal: Coming into this season, the narrative felt like a solid power forward who gets a raw deal. Early on in this franchise’s young life, he’s turned into a hero.
He has little reason to stop pushing, at least considering this fork in the road. There are millions on the table for Neal, making him a great source for bad gambling metaphors (if you’re into that kind of thing).
David Perron: In many ways, he’s a lower-profile version of Neal. They both have shown dynamic scoring ability, though sometimes they’ve been frustrating. Each forward has a lot to prove and has also been around the league quite a bit. They’ve even both been traded by the Pittsburgh Penguins. They both face crucial contract years where they can turn heads with strong seasons.
And, hey, Perron had his own hero moment for the Golden Knights last night:
Jonathan Marchessault – Currently injured, but also in a prominent spot where his next contract could vary wildly.
A slew of defensemen – The Golden Knights’ logjam on D isn’t necessarily going to last long. There are only three notable blueliners – and as you likely know, Vegas has a ton of them – with more than one year on their deals: Nate Schmidt, Griffin Reinhart, and Brad Hunt.
The likes of Jason Garrison and Luca Sbisa have seen better days. Even so, maybe the fear of a dull free agent market and/or getting benched for one of Gerard Gallant’s many other options will push their “compete levels” to new heights?
Something to prove
Speaking of Gallant, there’s little doubt that he likely has a chip on his shoulder stemming from the way things ended with the Florida Panthers.
He has quite the opportunity on his hands: a relatively competent roster for an expansion team, yet he’s also graded on a curve because this is an expansion team. Has Gallant already locked up at least some top-five Jack Adams votes?
Goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban – Both being on two-year deals provides some inherent motivation, but even considering their very different careers up to this point (“MAF” has more Stanley Cup rings  than Subban has NHL wins ), they each likely have some fire in their bellies.
“The Flower” handled the end of his Pittsburgh Penguins days with incredible grace. You have to think that he wants to prove that they made the wrong choice, or at least that he still “has it.”
Vadim Shipachyov – He didn’t just have to wait until age 30 for his first crack at the NHL. Due to the multitude of defensemen, “The Ship” also had to wait to make an impression in Vegas. Expect him to make up for lost time.
Reilly Smith – There are players who were claimed with things to prove even with relative comfort in Vegas; Cody Eakin probably feels insulted by the Stars exposing him to the expansion draft.
Smith is a rare case of a quality everyday NHL player who was just given away in a trade. The Panthers didn’t need to give up both Smith and Marchessault, but they did. That should give him at least a short-term boost, right?
The weird mascot: You think that “Chance” the Gila Monster hasn’t seen your disparaging tweets?
Look, ignore the hot takes. Most professional athletes care deeply and work hard. Sidney Crosby‘s future has been set since day one, and yet look at how he attacks a meaningless training moment with Brad Marchand: