WWYDW: The Trials and Tribulations of JC

What Would You Do Wednesday returns to talk about the Flames’ tallest player. Yup, he is the tallest.

When Joe Colborne was acquired just prior to the start of last season, the move was universally praised as a great example of how the Flames could take advantage of other NHL teams’ expensive and over-stocked rosters. It was also thought that he could become a reliable NHL centreman with a fair amount of offensive upside. Well, that hasn’t worked out so well.

However, that is not to say that Colborne has been a total failure with the Flames, he just hasn’t exactly come as advertised. Let’s talk about what to do with the often-frustrating, always tall Joe Colborne

Colborne was acquired by the Flames from the Leafs in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft and by all accounts, this deal has worked out pretty nicely for the Flames. Colborne has had a lot of expectations heaped on him since his first round draft selection in 2008. After acquiring Colborne, Brian Burke laid out his plan for Colborne

(via a Scott Cruickshank piece for the CH)

:

Plan for JC

Plan for JC2

I believe this is a good contextual landmark to keep in mind with Colborne. Despite his obvious skill with the puck, the plan for him was always a bottom-sixer and that will always be his role in the NHL as long as he is there. After a long history of having too much expected of him, I was pleased to see that the Flames bras were going to keep expectations low for Colborne (which stands to reason I suppose as he was just traded for a conditional fourth).  

While Burke may have envisioned him (with two separate teams no less) as a reliable two-way centreman like Steckel, I think the Colborne as a centre experiment has long been put to rest and his future lies on the wing.  

How has he done this season mostly on the wing? Let’s take a look at a sampling of Flames forwards with Colborne, all having played a minimum of 64 minutes this season with him:

WOWY JC

data courtesy of hockeyanalysis.com but you already knew that

It is important to acknowledge that no Flame forward has great possession stats so the analysis of a selected group of Colborne’s WOWY’s should take that into consideration. However, it is pretty evident that he isn’t doing many favours for his linemates as most have their CF% sag when playing with Colborne. You can check out the rest of his WOWY’s here.

Colborne also has some value as a relatively good shootout specialist as he is 5-12 in his career as a Flame. While that alone isn’t quite enough to justify keeping Colborne around long-term, the Flames can always use someone who is reliable in the shootout moving forward as extra points have become so coveted. 

Colborne has one more year left at a very reasonable 1.275 million but I, like many recently (see above) have wondered what his long term future is, if any, with this team. Colborne is also a walking pro/con test as well: generally well-liked (who cares?), a good passer (can’t really skate), and is tall (well, I’ve already mentioned it, baby giraffe on skates at times). 

Wait, I don’t think I have really addressed this yet. Make no mistake about it, Colborne is very tall. Perhaps that’s why his career started so loaded with expectations because NHL GMs couldn’t help but chase the white whale of tall centremen, especially ones who can score. 

However, Colborne never saw the light in terms of Rev. Burke’s religious conversion down the middle but shows flashes of using his size effectively along the wall. That is what makes him such a frustrating player to watch. He shows flashes of skill, and then will vanish for a week, he plays hard around the wall and then will cough a puck up in the slot. 

We haven’t even discussed “Joe Colborne: Pugilist” yet!

Despite playing well with Monahan at times throughout his stint in Calgary, Colborne has never really put up consistent offensive numbers but, given his assignment as a bottom-sixer, perhaps that isn’t the fairest way to evaluate his usefulness. 

I understand that this isn’t exactly a pressing issue for the Flames but I say, if there is a suitor at the draft who is willing to give you something halfway valuable (e.g- 2nd? 3rd? Is that crazy? That feels crazy. I’m not good at fictional trade talk), I think Treliving should take it. 

At 25, I am not sure how much else Colborne has to grow at this level. I’m not sure how popular a view this would be, but I would much rather the Flames keep Paul Byron around than Colborne. However, I don’t think moving him for the sake of moving him makes much sense either. If they can’t get value for him I figure there’s no point in moving him I don’t think. 

Well, that’s just my convoluted opinion. Who cares what I think, I want to hear what you all think. Should JC be a part of the Flames lives moving forward? What would you do?

  • smith

    Colborne is better than Bollig and that is about it. Because he is still young he may get better but other than that he is a waste of space.

    To make the flames better Colborne is one player that could be replaced.