We continue our prospect review and forecast series with a review and forecast for defenseman Colby Williams. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page on the top menu bar, or right here.)
Colby Williams, 23, signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Capitals on March 2, 2017 for $751,000 average annual value (AAV). He will be waivers-exempt this coming season and will be a restricted free agent next summer.
After four fairly productive seasons with the Regina Pats, Williams joined the Hershey Bears fulltime beginning with the 2016-2017 season.
2017-2018 SEASON SUMMARY
Williams got off to a fairly good start for the 2017-2018 season, but ended with a downturn. Williams had three goals and 14 assists in 69 games played in the 2017-2018 season. He missed three games due to a suspension for a high hit in January. Williams registered just 57 shots (18th on the Bears) for a 5.26% shooting percentage.
Williams was fourth on the Bears in penalty minutes at 1.36 PIMPG. (behind Lewington, G.Mitchell and Connor Hobbs). Williams was a -13 on the ice, which was the 7th worst +/- on the Bears, behind Boyd, Bourque, Siegenthaler, Bau, Simpson and Johansen. A certain amount of his struggles can be directly attributed to the overall struggles of the Bears blueline last season, and being paired with young, inexperi3nced defensemen.
2017-2018 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Colby Williams during the 2017-2018 season.
Another Bear that’s off to a bit of a hot start with one goal and four assists in nine games. Though that might not sound great, it is for Williams, who is known more for his defense than offense. He scored all of 16 points last season in 60 games played, so to hit nearly a third of that in just nine games is impressive. If he played just 60 games again, he’s averaging 33 points, more than double last season’s total. But, it is only nine games into the season, and he has to do a lot more to prove it isn’t a fluke.
Williams continues his good season, upping his points to nine in 21 games played. Not a huge amount, but for a player that isn’t known for his offense, it’s nice. He scored all of 16 points last season in 60 games played. He even got in a fight last weekend and handled himself very well. He could see some playing time in D.C. if there are other injuries (please no).
Colby Williams continues to have a decent 2017-2018 campaign. Williams registered one goal and on assist in 14 games during the month of December, giving him two goals and nine assists on the season. He is third amongst all Bears defensemen in scoring this season, behind Ness and Johansen. He is currently on pace to surpass last year’s scoring totals by a small margin. As we have previously noted, like Lewington and Siegenthaler, scoring will never be a primary focus of Williams’ game. Williams also raised a few eye brows during Capitals training camp in September, and could,get a long look this coming fall.
Not much has gone right for Colby Williams in recent weeks. First, he was suspended for three games after a high hit broke the jaw of Lehigh Valley’s Danick Martel. Since coming back from his suspension, Williams has struggled. In his first game back, he was a minus -2 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and turned the puck over several times. He was nearly a minus-3 after he tried to skate through two Penguins and turned the puck over at his own blueline. Goaltender Pheonix Copley bailed him out with a big save. Against Bridgeport, Williams took two penalties and his cross-checking infraction in the second period would prove costly. Bridgeport tallied on the power play with what would prove to be the game-winning goal. Prior to his suspension, Williams had a goal and assist in three games. He has not had any points since. The second-year defenseman is struggling with confidence right now and is not playing at the level he did as a rookie.
The biggest issue for Colby Williams has been discipline. He takes far too many penalties and a lot of them are of the unnecessary variety. Against Charlotte on February 3, he took a slashing penalty that he did not need to take. Charlotte scored three seconds into the power play. Later in the same game, Williams slashed another Charlotte player behind the play and put his team shorthanded in overtime. His teammates bailed him out for the next minute and nine seconds until Charlotte returned the favor with a bad penalty of their own. His penalty minutes are way up this season. He had 40 penalty minutes in 60 games last season. This year, he already has 76 minutes in just 54 games. When he stays out of the penalty box, Williams’ has shown improvement, although he still makes the occasional poor decision when trying to get the puck out of his own zone. His defensive game has gotten better since being paired with Lucas Johansen. Williams is a +5 in his last six games, after not being a plus-player in any of his previous 10 games. Williams needs to learn to not force a pass into the middle from his own end when the pass is not there. He did that against Rochester on February 11. Rochester’s Kevin Porter intercepted the pass and fed it to teammate Eric Cornel for the go-ahead goal in the third period. The Bears would rally to win in overtime, but Williams still needs to make better decisions.
The rough sophomore campaign for Williams continued in the month of March. He only has two assists in the month, offensively. Also, his defensive play continues to be an issue. For example, Williams had the puck behind the goal line on the right in the second period of a game against the Grand Rapids Griffins on March 11. His attempted pass to Aaron Ness was intercepted by Griffin Matt Puempel behind the net. Puempel passed the puck out to Ben Street and Street beat Pheonix Copley to give Grand Rapids a 3-0. Later in the same period, Williams tried to force a pass from his own zone between two Griffins players in the center of the ice. The pass had zero chance of getting through and it did not. Grand Rapids got a good scoring chance out of the play, but Copley bailed out his defenseman. Williams’ play in his own zone has become a liability. He needs to make smarter decisions with the puck. Williams has one year remaining on his deal with the Capitals at $751,000 AAV.
Again, a certain amount of William’s struggles during the 2017-2018 season can be directly attributed to the overall struggles of the Bears blueline last season, and being paired with young, inexperienced defensemen. He should rebound this season now that the youngsters have a full season under their collective belts.
Having said that, Williams will need to step his game up this fall. The defensive position is beginning to get a bit crowded, with several young prospects looking for a spot. This is also William’s last year under his current contract, so he will need to show the folks in Hershey and Washington he deserves an extension.
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