The Joe Colborne experiment in Toronto is over.
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded the 23-year-old centre to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
The pick becomes a third-round selection if Colborne scores 10 goals or 35 points this season AND the Flames make the playoffs.
Colborne, who is a Calgary native, was drafted 16th overall by the Boston Bruins in 2008. He had success in college (79 points in 72 games for the University of Denver) and showed flashes in the AHL (133 points in 217 games with Providence and the Marlies), but he hasn’t been able to stick at the NHL level, with just six points in 16 games.
The 6’5″, 219-pound pivot had chance to impress, but he became a victim of Toronto’s need to dump salary to get under the cap before the regular season starts on Tuesday. Moving Colborne takes $600,000 off Toronto’s books for this season before he becomes a restricted free agent.
The Maple Leafs originally acquired him as part of a package to send Tomas Kaberle to Boston ahead of the 2011 trade deadline, but he hadn’t developed into the big body presence Toronto had in mind up the middle.
According to The Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek, the Flames have had interest in Colborne for a long time, though they hadn’t made an offer until recently.
Of note, it was Brian Burke, Calgary’s president of hockey operations, who once again pulled the trigger on the deal to get Colborne, just as it was in 2011 when he was in charge of the Maple Leafs. Therefore, Burke clearly sees something in Colborne that others don’t.
Regardless of what the Flames decide to do with Sean Monahan, Colborne will get a chance to play regular minutes in Calgary instead of Abbotsford since sending him down would expose him to waivers, where he’d likely get claimed.
The trade offers Colborne another chance to stick in the NHL, but with this being the final year of his contract, he may not have many more chances if it doesn’t work out.