2014-15 By The Numbers: #8 Joe Colborne

Joe Colborne is a bit of an odd duck on this team. He’s a big-bodied forward, but he didn’t really start using his size effectively until the playoffs, and until that point he was a perimeter depth player.

Because he hasn’t quite reached his power forward potential quite yet, he’s moved up and down the Flames line-up card this season. And he’s displayed a variable level of performance depending on his role, ice-time and line-mates.

Let’s dig into Colborne’s numbers from this season, shall we?

Here’s everybody who played 100 (or more) even-strength minutes with Colborne in the regular season.

Player Together Apart Diff.
Brodie 41.6% 46.2% -4.6%
Raymond 42.6% 44.0% -1.4%
Russell 43.0% 43.0% +0.0%
Wideman 43.0% 42.9% +0.1%
Engelland 38.8% 41.0% -2.2%
Jooris 45.2% 47.9% -2.7%
Diaz 45.3% 47.1% -1.8%
Giordano 43.7% 49.2% -5.5%
Monahan 47.9% 45.3% +2.6%
Backlund 46.3% 45.5% +0.8%
Gaudreau 39.4% 47.4% -8.0%
Glencross 38.9% 46.6% -7.7%
Bouma 37.4% 42.2% -4.8%
Byron 48.1% 46.4% +1.7%

To say these results are uneven would be an understatement. For most players, Colborne seems to drag them down slightly. For several players, he seemingly acted as a boat anchor, absolutely killing their underlying numbers. And a handful of players – Monahan, Byron and Backlund – experienced a very slight bump up in their possession game with Colborne.

In terms of his scoring numbers, Colborne produced a modest 28 points in 64 games (a career high) coupled with 3 points in 11 playoff games. Colborne missed a chunk of the season with what was believed to be a wrist injury.

Here’s how Colborne was deployed, including the playoffs:


Colborne was given fairly shielded offensive zone minutes, in the sense that only Granlund and Raymond – of the regular forwards – got more O-zone starts. He also got reasonably sheltered minutes, playing against mostly lesser lights in a third line role. His primary comparator player is likely Josh Jooris – another guy that plays right wing and center – because Jooris has played in almost identical circumstances. However, Jooris has really been a difference maker in a positive manner in terms of puck possession, while Colborne has displayed uneven results – despite his sheltered ice-time.

For the curious, Colborne won a higher percentage of his face-offs (52.4% versus Jooris’ 48.7%), but Jooris was utilized very strategically by Bob Hartley as the team’s only right-handed center (until Drew Shore was acquired). All-in-all, Jooris won 100 more face-offs than Colborne did as a result of being used much more to take draws.

I’m not sure where Joe Colborne fits in on this team long-term. He’s a big guy. He’s quite bright. He understands schemes and alignments and strategies. But he just hasn’t been able to put things together. He’s benefiting from Calgary’s complete lack of right-side depth right now, but he’ll really need to step it up next season to avoid becoming merely a place-holder until guys like Emile Poirier and other up-and-comers arrive to take his spot.


  • paul wodehouse

    IMO Colborne’s biggest problem is his neutral zone play. He seems to make the fewest mistakes in the defensive end, and though he frequently fumbles plays in the offensive zone he also makes some good ones (particularly passes). But he never seems to do a damn thing in the neutral zone.

    • I’m not sure I was watching those same games as you. Although I saw him improve compared to the previous year, he gives the puck away too much no matter what the zone.

      He can do some amazing things randomly but I am not sure that he is a great fit unless it is 3rd to 4th line minutes.

  • paul wodehouse

    Given Burke’s obsession with Colburne he likely will be given lots of rope by Hartley. A shame because most nights he is a liability when one considers his age, experience and draft position.

  • KiLLKiND

    I think he made big strides forward in the postseason this year. He was more physical and while he did take some dumb penalties it was a great learning experience for him and if he can continue to build on it he may still reach his potential. Yet another reason why it is always better to make the playoffs and if there is one team that really shows how beneficial being a playoff team they are just North ain’t that right Oilers?

    Realistically though Poirier will pass him on RW depth same with Jones, Shore, and Byron. I hope he can reach his potential whether it will be with Calgary is another question but we are still in a rebuild and he does show promise I don’t see any reason to quit on him now.

  • KiLLKiND

    Colborne’s an interesting case. There are times where he’ll have a minute of possession and not even get a shot attempt up as he’ll eventually turn it over after holding on to the puck. That’s gotta be terrible for his corsi yet probably fine for his OZ time.

    I don’t know what to draw from it. I figure the best we can do is more the guy over to LW where at least he’ll have the puck on his forehand and maybe be a bit more comfortable with a quicker trigger than he’s had this year.

  • KiLLKiND

    Considering he spent much of the season playing with a buggered up wrist I have no problem with continuing the experiment. He is one of the those pieces that fits but is also replaceable.

    • Burnward

      Absolutely agree about the wrist, but I think he would be harder to replace than we think.

      He has come farther and quicker than I could have ever expected. His skating looked shockingly good at times.

      He’s driven to win here as well.

      • Burnward

        It is hard to replace 6’5″ with some skills. I sometimes think he might be the guy for the RW with Monny and Johnny (he had some good moments with Monny 2 years ago)and then I see the bad Joe. This is a big year for him, he either steps up and finds a clearly defined role or he could be passed by. I hope it’s the first whether that being on the Monny line or driving possession with Backs and Bouma.

          • Burnward

            Yes agree he seems to still be progressing and hasn’t hit his ceiling yet.

            And given his size he is becoming more difficult to replace if he continues to progress skill-wise. The Flames 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines are becoming reasonably balanced with one larger skilled player (Bouma, Colborne, Ferland) playing on each line.

            Colborne’s is one of the top forwards able to play down low below the hash marks and cycle, and this year he seemed to be getting more comfortable with this style of play at the NHL level and had some great extended shifts deep in the offensive zone.