Thanks to Gus Katsaros for stopping by with a few thoughts on now-Calgary Flame Joe Colborne…

Even if you sensed Joe Colborne’s time with the Leafs was dwindling after a less than impressive 2013 training camp, it was a little disappointing to see a former 16th overall draft selection – who many Leafs fans were still holding out hope for, and once considered among the organization’s top prospects – jettisoned for a 4th round draft pick.

Randy Carlyle perhaps put it best:

“The way this thing works is the bus only goes by so many times. And you want to be on that bus. That was the way it was when I started and it’s the way it’s been for years.”

Colborne, 24 in January and prone to waivers, missed the bus for his last time with the Leafs.

Where did it go wrong with Colborne in Toronto?

There’s a slight misconception surrounding the impact of his wrist injury and how affected his development. It was a contributing factor, of course, but other elements weren’t growing into the ideal high-end potential envisioned when he was acquired. The wrist injury contributed, but wasn’t the sole reason for limiting himself to operating on the outskirts, becoming less of a net presence, and reverting into a perimeter player. I understand the injury caused some stagnation in his path, but with time I’ve started to move away from it as the sole major factor.

On the MLHS Hangout, I touched on how, prior to the wrist injury, Colborne was beginning to show signs of finding his inside game, and was learning to assert himself and his big frame. That never fully materialized. He began operating from the outside, relying on vision and distribution skills to keep the play moving into the middle. A problem wrist would limit the ability to get into high traffic areas, to work the boards and engage in puck battles, especially when he isn’t an overly physical player for his size and relies on his stick work. That type of commitment could cause as much individual strain. As would faceoffs, which was another reason I thought he could play the wing instead of lining up as a center.

Upon acquiring Colborne, Brian Burke immediately indicated his skill set and set the ‘at worst’ prognosis as a David Steckel-type player. Steckel was recently released from his PTO with the Minnesota Wild, was available for nothing, and wound up signing with the Flames.

In the end, Colborne just wasn’t yet showing the intensity required to become an impact player in anything more than an NHL support role. Further, he no longer fit into the roster, and waiver rules being what they are, his time ran out with the Maple Leafs.

From Calgary’s perspective, the upside here is intriguing enough to pay an asset value like a 4th round pick (with conditions); a pittance in the grand scheme for an affordable player who can play on the roster, instead of taking the chance Colborne was waived and claimed by a team ahead of them in the rotation. The added benefit is maintaining the waiver wire slot and potentially picking up another player they may have interest in bringing into the fold.

In the end, it was a matter of one team with a cap crunch and no roster spot available, and another team with a need for upgraded talent with the room to take a chance on a player with upside at a cheap price.


The Secret Life of Bobby Ryan

Big respect for the character of this player, Sens property aside. Also, Brian Burke is a good human.

Joe Colborne: Mistakes and New Beginnings
Sensible move forced to happen by mistakes from the team, says Jeffler.

Rating the Leafs in 10 key categories
Michael expands on the exercise carried out by the Maple Leaf Hangout panel last episode.

The Leaf Report Podcast with Siegel and Mirtle
The duo wrap up training camp and look ahead to the season.

Morgan Rielly makes the cut, for now
Curious to see who rotates in and out for Rielly – presumably Fraser, but I (Alec) don’t think Ranger played particularly well in his final few preseason appearances.

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