Parting thoughts on Joe Colborne


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.

Previous articleLeafs waive John Michael Liles, 5 others
Next articleLeafs Notebook - Season Opener Eve: September 30th
Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited unofficial team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast).Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, a weekly feature piece, the "Leafs Notebook", along with a Web TV show the "Maple Leaf Hangout".
  • LeafsForLife

    Great job! Thank you for this!

    I had higher expectations for Joe and disappointed he had to be let go for such a cheap return. But i wish him the best in Calgary.

  • Optimustic

    Agree with the article, it’s just too bad Joe couldn’t make it work.   Ashton and most of the other bubble players came into camp a lot hungrier than Joe did.  Would have been nice to get a better return but the circumstances didn’t allow much, so it was a 4th or lose him to waivers.

  • peterbleafs

    He was big, he was strong, he was talented…but the wake up call he needed was a trade out of town.  Calgary will be thanking us for this trade.  Unfortunately there was no alternative.

  • Knights2Leafs

    “In the end, it was a matter of one team with a cap crunch and no roster spot available”
    “Sensible move forced to happen by mistakes from the team, says Jeffler.”In the overall scheme of things the loss of Colborne is probably not a big deal but I agree with the above comments that it’s managements lack of management that has cost us the opportunity to see if Joe could have finally succeeded once given an NHL shot.

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto Won’t know for sure till noon but I doubt he gets claimed . Once he’s buried the chances of moving him are even harder . Nonis will likely have to re-visit a regular buyout next yr.

  • JeffNB

    If Liles goes to the Marlies for the year there is no way we will be able to trade hime with that contract. He gets bought out next summer.

  • Knights2Leafs

    I would be okay if Rielly ends up playing with Fraser but think that Ranger is the better match.
    All 3 are left handed and of those 3, I think Ranger has the most versatility in being able to slide over to the right side.  It would not be wise to put Morgan there and while Fraser is not as slow as some think, he isn’t mobile enough to move to the right side.

  • TMLConnor

    Random thought*
    If Phanuef signs with the Leafs, how much money do you guys think they’ll give him + term. As well if the leafs dont sign him because he wants too much $, who do you think will snatch him?

  • TMLConnor

    CanuckUKinToronto Yaknowwhat TMLConnor Yeah i wish we could get him signed like 7 years at about 5.5, then not have to worry about him for a while.

  • Knights2Leafs

    Please try reading the comment to understand its context.  I didn’t blame management for his so-called shortcomings.  I blame management for creating cap issues that caused us to have give up on him too soon.  One last time – if we did not have Liles there would have been room for Ashton, Devane and Colborne to be given a chance to succeed.
    Colborne over his tenure with the Leafs was given all of 16 regular season NHL games and scored 6 points.  Ashton played 15 games and has zero points.  But to be clear, these are 2 different types of players and I’m not saying these stats prove Colborne is better. They have different roles.