Colby Cave joined the Edmonton Oilers last season in January amid a time when the roster was depleted.
Grabbed off waivers from the Boston Bruins, nobody thought much of the 24-year-old rookie who scored only a handful of points with the B’s.
But what the Oilers got was a player who had an underrated season for the club. Cave came into Edmonton with absolutely no expectations beyond being a warm body who could fill a bottom-six role.
Instead, what he offered up was some very strong 5v5 play in limiting many chances playing just under 12 minutes a night.
During his 33 games played with Edmonton, his 52 CF% was top amongst all Oilers >300 minutes of 5v5 play, and most impressively, his high danger CF% was a whopping 62 per cent.
For those counting at home, that 5v5 high danger CF% is good enough for seventh in the entire NHL in players over 300 minutes. While it’s only looking at his 33 games in Edmonton, those are impressive numbers, small sample size aside.
For transparency’s sake, he drops to 169th accounting his time with the Bruins last season, as his HDCF% fell to 53% which still would’ve been tops on the Oilers.
There are a few things we can learn from looking at Cave. In Boston, he was deployed more in the offensive zone, than the defensive zone. In Edmonton, it was the opposite.
Cave saw most of his deployment against the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines, as to be expected, and against that competition, he boasted a strong 53.7 CF%.
His ability to produce points isn’t there right now, but looking at his NHLe based off both his production in the American Hockey League, and earlier in the Western Hockey League, Cave could turn into a 15-20 point player.
It would put him at a third or fourth scoring level, which is about where he would likely have an NHL career.
Just last week, Cave told EdmontonOilers.com that one of his big focus’ this offseason was upping his footspeed, something he’s working with Oilers Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Drummond on.
“He gave me a couple of pointers on what I should be working on and sent me an email consisting of specific areas that I can work on. I took that to my trainer and we came up with a plan to help with that,” said Cave, who is training out of Boston. “The biggest thing for me is making sure I get my foot speed up. The NHL is the best league in the world for a reason, so just having that extra step to explode on loose pucks and catch people, it’s very a very important attribute.
“Then, just working on everything else in my game. You can’t practice enough. It’s one of those things where you’re always working.”
That was probably one of the things he lacked most last year, so its good to see it being a main focus for him.
Cave has one more year on a deal that pays him only $675k, and is an RFA at the end of it. The Oilers may have a guy who can develop into a very solid bottom-six NHL’er and I’m intrigued to see how he plays this season.