June 20 2012 09:03AM
What happened to Joe Colborne in the second half of last year? After 40 games, Colborne had 15 goals and 33 points with the Toronto Marlies. But, February hit. In the second 40 games of the season, including the AHL playoffs, Colborne had just 3 goals and 14 points.
What happened here?
Now, a lot of Colborne's production was in the first 13 games before his NHL call-up in November. At that point, he had 10 goals, which put him on pace for 63 goals over 82 games, or the NHL equivalent of 28. Obviously that isn't a sustainable pace at all, and part of that was thanks to his 25% shooting rate at that time.
Heading into the season, Colborne's career AHL shooting percentage was 14.7%, so on that note, it isn't too surprising to see a regression to the mean. But he was helped along in this case, presumably by the wrist injury he had been playing with all season:
"I've been battling a wrist injury all year and we're going to take care of that over the next week or so," said Colborne, whose AHL Toronto Marlies were swept by the Norfolk Admirals in the Calder Cup final. "Hopefully I'll be ready by camp."
The six-foot-five forward wouldn't say when the injury first happened but his statistical decline points towards late 2011.
This explination passes the sniff test, and you'll be able to see why in a few moments. It wasn't just regression that suffered Colborne, but a huge drop in overall performance and production up and down the board. Even strength points, powerplay points, and even shots per game dropped steadily after that first crunch as Colborne struggled:
That's unfair as well, however. 3 shots a game is also a pretty unsustainable pace.
Gus Kastsaros of McKeen's:
@camcharron drifted to perimeter .. Winger's responsibilities as a C .. Didn't drive to net like early season .. Couldn't make/take passes— Gus Katsaros (@KatsHockey) June 20, 2012
Both scoring and shot rates are higher the closer a player gets to the net. Shots from further away are more likely to miss or get blocked, so let's assume that Colborne just couldn't compete physically as much as he'd want to.
One thing that's optimistic is that Colborne never really made his living on special teams. Of his 10 goals in the first 13 games, 7 came at even strength as were 14 of his 19 points. His fast start had little to do with PP production and was more to do with the other factors, evidently.
He finished with 14 powerplay points.
From the above CBC story:
Colborne has already seen a local surgeon and will have the surgery done in Toronto sometime over the next two weeks.
"I've already met with (the doctor)," said Colborne. "It'll be nice to finally get over it and back to where I feel confident as a shooter and a passer."
So that's good (ish?) news. You hate to make excuses for a player as an analyst but I think there's still a very reasonable hockey player in Joe Colborne. Corey Pronman calls Colborne "one of the hardest prospects to get a read on" and you have to think that next year is pretty make-or-break for him.
He has a ways to go, but the affliction cost him a good second half and possibly a chance at competing for that top line C spot next season.