It’s the end of the season for Buffalo Sabres forward Drake Caggiula, who will be undergoing fusion surgery on a herniated disk today. Caggiula has been given a recovery timeline of six to eight months, according to Heather Engel of NHL.com.
Not only does that mean that Caggiula’s season ends with just 18 games played, but given his status as a pending unrestricted free agent, this surgery will also affect offseason negotiations. With no clear picture of when he will be back on the ice training, it’s hard to imagine him getting anything but a one-year, two-way contract at this point.
That’s a steep fall for the 27-year-old who once looked like he was going to be a bottom-six force for years to come. In 2017-18, his sophomore season, Caggiula scored 13 goals in 67 games for the Edmonton Oilers, racking up 147 hits with his fearless playstyle. He followed that up with another 12-goal campaign the next year, with time split between Edmonton and the Chicago Blackhawks, but hasn’t been able to crack double digits in the years since. This season, he had just two goals and five points in the 18 games, while recording just 17 hits.
It’s not to say his career is over but it will be a long recovery for a player that was already having trouble impacting the game at the NHL level. Caggiula’s future is very unclear at this point.