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Colby Cave – underrated?

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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.


  • RJ

    If you break it up into top-6/bottom-6, there is a ton of talent and depth with the top-6 centre positions. The opposite is true for the bottom-six centre depth.

    Good luck to the kid. The door is open.

  • The future never comes

    “But what the Oilers got was a player who had an underrated season for the club.” – if 2 goals and 1 assist in 33 games is your definition of underrated, okay. Does not really compute to underrated in my books.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The one things I likes about Cave on the dot the kid did pretty decent, while he isn’t a huge play making center he isn’t afraid to make plays when he has the puck. Cave seems to be pretty decent on the PK and he isnt a huge liability when he is on the ice. The fact that Cave has been working in the off season to improve the things in his game is a plus, its shows he wants to improve.

    Let Cave push for one of the 3 or 4 C roles with the team, its certainly wouldnt hurt and one of the problems have had is withe the C position on 3 and 4 especially when it comes to faceoffs.

  • Fireball

    He is a prime Candidate for forth line centre. I couldn’t agree more that he is definitely under rated. He played really well last year in Etown., he’s 52%

    • Fireball

      I refer to him as under rated because in his small sample size ( out side of scoring ) he was one of the best Bottom nine forwards during that time. He was 52% in the dot. That’s team best ! That is a area this team is looking to improve on. I say under rated as the Majority of Edmonton media / these links we debate on don’t even have him on the team. For a guy who out played almost everyone in the bottom 6 last year, on a team that needs face off winning centres who are defensively sound.. I’d have to say not having him on the card is under rating him. Under rated bottom 6 player who had better defensive numbers than some of our top 6 players.

  • Shane

    I remember watching him a few times last year, and he definitely was one of the better players by my eye. Good hustle, didn’t make many mistakes, and kept up with the play.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I am one the values advanced metrics but CF% is one that provides little value in a small sample size and, Zach, I’m going to have to disagree that he’s under-rated or would be a good option for 4C.

    While I do think that he will likely be on the roster and probably will indeed be 4C on October 2, I can’t agree that its a good thing. Colby is a hard worker and responsible but he’s the definition of tweener/depth forward that should be the 3rd/4th call-up option. If he’s on the opening night roster than most of the “bets” have failed.

    Sure, Cave “doesn’t hurt you” out there but “not hurting” is not good enough. We need a fourth line that can keep momentum, that can forechek and turn pucks over and score the odd goal. I don’t see Cave as a part of that fourth line.

    If Coop can prove to be a 3C (yes, that is likely a stretch), and play between Granlund and Archibald, that could/would all the team to have a fourth line that could make an impact, something like Nygard/Khaira/Gagner.

  • Dan13

    I don’t know that he’s underrated based on his NHL production to date, but I like what I hear from him in this article. Maybe he can have a breakout year.