Who Is Joe Colborne?

I'm given to the belief that the acquiring of College prospects by Brian Burke is a way of making me type long articles looking back on the 2008 Draft.

Which of course brings us to Joe Colborne.

Today, the Leafs purportedly acquired the six-foot-five centre from the Bruins as a part of a package for Tomas Kaberle. The best way to understand the prospect is as the forward version of Jake Gardiner.

The path taken by the two prospects is eerily similar. Colborne was drafted out of the Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL after putting up a 90 point season. The then 190 pound Colborne was called the Dark Horse of the Draft. He was a centre, he was big and he had off the charts hockey sense. There was a significant kabbal of scouts on the Draft floor who believed that the Calgary product would be the next Joe Thornton. But he needed to take two things away from his coming time at the University of Denver. He needed to pack on muscle and he needed to work on his skating.

At 216 pounds, Colborne has succeeded in the first goal. Colborne's skating has also vastly improved. When he left the University of Denver, it was looking like he was a step away from making the NHL in a big way.

But then the Bruins took over his development.

College players always, always, always hit a wall in their first pro season. Most have never played an 80 game schedule. For some, it's been a long time since they rode the bus. In Colborne's case, he was at an added disadvantage. He was playing for a lacklustre AHL team in Providence and the Bruins decided to move him from his natural centre position to Left Wing.

What needs to be understood about Colborne is that he's not a physically imposing player. Like Joe Thornton, he uses his size to protect the puck and draw additional coverage thereby opening up ice. His offensive output is dependent on his hockey sense, puck distribution and playing an East-West game, none of which is really possible from the wing.

If the Marlies move him back to his natural centre position, I would expect his production to increase. He's not suited as a winger but down the middle, he offers the size and puck skill to be dangerously effective.

After his freshman year with Denver University, Colborne was believed to be untouchable by the Bruins. He was going to be the next Thornton. He still could be. All the tools are there, it's just up to Dallas Eakins to earn his reputation and develop them as a centreman for the Marlies.

And look at it this way, Leafs fans. You just got two firsts for Tomas Kaberle.


George Prax's picture

Out of all the players Burke's traded and acquired over the last couple of weeks, this might be my favorite. I was really high on this kid in his draft year and I really wanted the Habs to draft him. I think the Leafs have their big center for the future.

Great piece as always Mitch.

nightmare3020's picture

lupul and this kid could be the rejuvenating the leafs need in the coming years. They could potentially take some of the burden off of kessels shoulders. All we have heard since kessel came is how he is doing on a night to night basis. Now we have a former 25 goal scorer, and a legit prospect. Add in kadri and the limelight wont be solely on kessel.

obviously if he pulls another 14 goaless drought all bets are off, but now the reporters have more people to write about.