Is Joe Colborne Finally Living up to his Potential?

In the 2008 NHL draft, Joe Colborne was selected 16th overall by Boston, before the likes of Jordan Eberle, Tyler Ennis, and John Carlson. Since then, Colborne has been shipped around, and hasn’t made a giant impact on any of the teams he’s played with.

However, since this year’s trade deadline, Colborne has had to step up for the shallow Flames’ lineup, and he’s actually been very good.

Time With Toronto

In 2009-10, Colborne put up 41 points in 39 games, capping a superb final NCAA season with the University of Denver. As a result, Colborne was moved up to Boston’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins, for the beginning of the following season. Colborne was developing as a player and performing well in the minors, but was sent to Toronto at the 2011 trade deadline in a blockbuster deal for defenceman Tomas Kaberle.

(Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Colborne was seen as one of the building blocks for the Leafs’ initial rebuild, but was never able to secure a permanent spot in the big leagues. Over the course of two and a half seasons with the Toronto organization, Colborne played only 16 games with the Leafs, scoring one goal and six points.

Though Colborne was never given a good chance in Toronto, Colborne played decently in the minors, scoring 81 points in 140 games in his time with the Marlies. Nevertheless, the Leafs decided they had better prospects in the system, and sent the forward to Calgary in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

Moving to Calgary

Upon arriving in Calgary at the start of the 2013-14 season, Colborne was immediately put on the Flames’ roster. He scored 28 points in 80 games during his first season in Calgary, and was a background contributor with the team. Colborne then put up the same number of points in just 64 games the following season, and also scored his first career NHL playoff goal.

Coming into this season, Calgary was expected to contend for home-ice in the playoffs, but that goal quickly became unrealistic for the Flames. Calgary found themselves as a bottom-feeder in the Western Conference early on, and Colborne was once again only contributing on a secondary scoring basis. By the midway part of the season, it appeared Colborne had reached his glass ceiling.

Post-Trade Deadline

When Flames’ management decided the season was lost, the team dealt key forwards Jiri Hudler and David Jones in order to build for the future. Although the trades cleared the Flames’ depth, they’ve given players a chance to seize the spotlight, most notably for Colborne.

Colborne has nine points in his last nine games, including points in four of his last five. Part of this is due to Colborne shooting more, he’s taken  17 shots in his last nine games, compared to the previous 14 games that it took him to register the same amount of shots. On March 16th, Colborne reached a career-high in both goals and points, scoring one goal and adding one assist against the Winnipeg Jets.

Now with Colborne entering restricted free agency, the Flames will have to decide how much they’re willing to spend on the 26-year-old forward. With re-signing Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan already on the to-do list, the Flames could find themselves in a cap crunch next year.

One thing’s certain, if Joe Colborne can keep up his play, the dollar amount on his upcoming contract is only going to rise.