REPORT: Rangers in on College Free Agent Drake Caggiula

Undrafted free agent Drake Caggiula is the player the Rangers badly need to replenish a weak prospect pool.

The Rangers are in the running to sign free agent forward Drake Caggiula, according to Grand Forks Herald reporter Brad Schlossman.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman also claims to have heard the Rangers linked to Caggiula.

Caggiula, 21, is the best undrafted college free agent in this year's class. The North Dakota senior played wing alongside Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz to form the most dominant line in college hockey; one that led the school to its first National Championship since 2000. Caggiula's personal contribution was 25 goals and 26 assists in 39 games.

Unlike your typical undrafted college player that teams sign as a shot in the dark, Caggiula is a legitimate NHL prospect. He has top-six upside and could challenge for an NHL spot in training camp next September. He has a ton of offensive skill and instincts. He skates well, has a good shot, and reads the ice well. Of course with help from two great line mates, he had many shifts of dominant puck possession.

The knock on him has always been his size. He's grown three inches since his Freshman season, but still is just 5'10 and 180 pounds. There's plenty of reason to believe he can overcome that at the pro level, however. He has enough leg and core strength to shrug of hits, and also has the instincts and quickness to avoid contact. He is a tenacious player who is a nuisance on the forecheck. He doesn't shy away from the slot and is actually a proficient scorer on rebounds and deflections.

Caggiula became a favorite of mine within two viewings of him. I was skeptical of the Rangers' chances of signing him due to a busy roster, but the team clearly is headed in a younger direction. The Rangers are desperate for an infusion of creative, scoring forwards in the prospect pool and Caggiula would be a solid addition if they can pull it off. Even if he were to start off in Hartford, it seems likely he'd get a winter call-up.

There are plenty of teams the Rangers will have to fight off for Caggiula, but if they're serious about making changes and getting younger, Caggiula could see the prospect of living in New York and having few other prospects to fight off in order to join a good team as a ideal situation.