6’6 Centerman Joe Colborne has been traded to the Calgary Flames for a 4th round pick in 2014.
Count this as Brian Burke‘s first move as
GM of the Calgary Flames President of the Calgary Flames.
Colborne was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the first round (16th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and in 2011 was traded to Toronto along with a 1st round pick in 2011 (Tyler Biggs) and a conditional 2nd round pick in exchange for Tomas Kaberle. The Leafs parlayed that 2nd round pick into John-Michael Liles (who ties back into this, if you keep reading).
Colborne signed a one-way $600,000 contract with the Leafs in the summertime. With his waiver eligibility now a factor, Colborne was nearing a fork in the road in terms of time with the Leafs. Leafs brain trust was expecting it all to begin to come together for Big Joe this season after he finished up last season with the Leafs during their playoff run.
Colborne has had a myriad of injuries that stunted his growth at the NHL level. Certainly impacting two years of his development was his battle with wrist injuries and lingering effects thereafter. The other side to Colborne’s inability to crack the pro roster was an inconsistent game. Colborne seemed to introduce an element of added speed over the summer and came into camp a little bit quicker. Perhaps still struggling to process the game at an NHL level, it didn’t seem to translate into him making much of an impact.
It’s a shame we won’t get to see it through and find out if Colborne can piece together all the tools at his disposal in a Leaf sweater. For obvious reasons, the return is a pittance. Perhaps Colborne could have stuck around a little longer with the luxury of cap space, but there’s little doubt it was eventually stick or goodbye for Colborne this fall.
This may be indicative of a decision to keep Morgan Rielly with the big club and instead shed Colborne’s contract, along with $925,000 of Liles’, Holzer’s and one of Smith or Ashton’s, to become cap compliant before Monday’s deadline.
On episode two of the MLHS Hangout, Gus Katsaros argued that Colborne might find more success on the wing at the NHL level:
Colborne, while they are still using him as a centre, I feel is probably end up a little bit more productive on the wing. I don’t mean statistically productive, I mean as far as an on-ice product. The one thing I felt about Colborne – when he first came to the Maple Leafs, he was a much better slot and net presence; he played crease-to-crease, he knew where to be as a centre. Last year, after his injury, there as a dynamic change in the way that he approached the game—he became a perimeter player. A perimeter player is not a problem, if you are going to be playing the wing, because he does have the distribution ability, and vision to make plays into the center of the ice. However, they seem to want to move him into centre, and I just don’t feel he’s excelling at this point. When you watch him on the Marlies, you see he does most of his work from that perimeter.
If he is going to be a perimeter player, use him on the wing.
There’s little doubt Colborne was of some value to the Leafs still, a value which is not reflected in this trade. If any of the Leafs’ top 4 centers of Bozak, Kadri, Bolland and McClement go down to injury, who is ready to jump into the lineup at center?