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Blackhawks among 'front-runners' to land college free agent Drake Caggiula, per report

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Caggiula was named Most Outstanding Player at the 2016 Frozen Four.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks are among the "front-runners" to acquire top college free agent Drake Caggiula, reports TSN's Frank Seravalli. Caggiula is regarded as one of the top NCAA players available on the open market this spring after a fantastic four-year career at the University of North Dakota.

The Hawks are listed as one of five top suitors for Caggiula's services along with the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators. Seravalli also says the Buffalo Sabres are "in the mix" for the Canadian forward.

Caggiula is coming off a monster senior year at UND that saw him lead the team to its first national championship since 2000. The 21-year-old earned Most Outstanding Player honors for his performance at the Frozen Four, which included two goals in the third period of the Fighting Hawks' 5-1 title game victory over Quinnipiac.

One reason that the Blackhawks organization might appeal to Caggiula is his connection with Chicago's 2014 first-round pick, Nick Schmaltz. The two played together on one of college hockey's most dominant lines this season and could try to recreate that chemistry at hockey's highest levels.

In 39 games with UND as a senior, Caggiula recorded 25 goals and 26 assists. His 51 points were second only to fellow linemate Brock Boeser, another NHL first-round pick, on the team. Schmaltz finished the year with 11 goals and 35 assists in 37 games centering between those two.

The fact that Caggiula played alongside two elite prospects like Boeser and Schmaltz helps to explain his big numbers, but he's also a high-energy player who can move the puck and works in all three zones. Even if he shouldn't be expected to continue putting up huge scoring numbers at the next level, there's a decent chance he can translate parts of his game and become a good bottom-six forward in the NHL.