Joe Colborne cited as one of The Hockey News’ biggest ‘one-hit wonders’ of the past decade

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
11 months ago
Sometimes promising players never break out. Sometimes they do… but it doesn’t last all that long. Over at The Hockey News, writer Connor Earegood put together a list of the biggest “one-hit wonders” of the past decade of the National Hockey League, players that had one really good season and not much else.
Former Calgary Flames forward Joe Colborne was cited as one of those wonders for his single breakout season in 2015-16.
Here’s the rundown on Colborne:
Drafted 16th overall in 2008, Colborne had a slow start to his career that saw him traded to the Leafs for Tomas Kaberle, then moved to Calgary after just 16 games in the Blue and White. But for his hometown team in the Flames, he started to right the ship with back-to-back 28-point seasons. That teed up a 44-point campaign in 2015-16, making it seem like Colborne had finally broken through his struggles.
But even after that breakthrough season, the Flames left him untendered as an RFA, and Colborne signed with Colorado. The first game of 2016-17 reinforced the narrative that he had figured it all out, as he scored a hat trick in his Avs debut. But then he only scored a single goal the rest of the year, and injuries unfortunately ended his career the next season.
A Calgary kid playing for his hometown team, Colborne was a three-time winner of the Peter Maher Good Guy Award from local media during his three seasons with the Flames and was an ironic fan favourite for being, as it was termed online, “big and local.”
So, some context on his breakout season: Colborne had a team-leading 17.8% personal shooting percentage at five-on-five in 2015-16 (after shooting 13.4% and 11.3% in his two prior full seasons). Colborne also spent the season primarily playing on the wing alongside one of Matt Stajan or Mikael Backlund. With Stajan on the ice with Colborne, the Flames got great goaltending (rocking a 94.2% on-ice save percentage). With Backlund on the ice with Colborne, the puck constantly went in for them (rocking a 11.9% on-ice shooting percentage). Either way, the underlyings of Colborne’s on-ice experiences were weird.
(This is one of many examples of what’s been affectionately termed “the Backlund Bump”: players having career performances in contract years playing on Backlund’s line.)
Either suddenly Colborne had figured things out and he was a better finisher than guys like Sean Monahan or Johnny Gaudreau… or he wasn’t, and he was riding the percentages and taking advantage of playing with some good linemates in favourable environments.
Not wanting to be hammered by a bad arbitration award – which was likely given Colborne’s offensive eruption – the Flames opted against tendering a qualifying offer. Colborne was decidedly ordinary with Colorado before injuries led to his career prematurely ending.

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