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.
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.