September 20 2013 09:38AM
The big news from last night's preseason contest is that Jonathan Bernier and Nazem Kadri both left to injury. I'm not going to worry too much about either, and neither should you. Whatever was ailing Bernier sounds like it just got a little tender during the game and he pulled himself out for precautionary reasons. In a regular season game, he probably stays in.
Kadri left to a bruised hand after blocking a shot. X-rays were negative, more good news, which means that Kadri will be out for as long as his lower hand is too swollen to grip his stick. Gotta keep those nifty mittens fresh for the opener!
Also, apparently the Leafs are looking into trading Joe Colborne. Wut?
In an awkward intermission segment on TSN last night, about 4 minutes in James Duthie finally asks Darren Dreger about Joe Colborne, who suggested that if Colborne didn't make it into the top six, the Leafs will "cut bait and trade him". (Note, I have no idea what Dreger's intentions are, but it sounds like he's again working for the Leafs by way of stirring up a trade market. He lectured Cody Franson prior to bringing up Colborne by pointing out that guys like Andrew MacWilliam or Morgan Rielly could take his job, and that a deal between the Leafs and Franson gets signed only when "The Player" realizes that it's in his best interest to sign now rather than weeks or months into the regular season.)
Let's assume then, that some reputable insider announced that Colborne was on the trading block. How would you take it? From my perspective, Colborne is exactly the kind of player you trade to get an extra roster player. In a world where the Leafs weren't stuck up against the salary cap, I would use him as bait to try and coax a third line winger over to play with Dave Bolland and Nik Kulemin.
It's also not the worst situation in the world. Joe Colborne is 23 and has just 16 NHL games to his credit. He's taken just 12 shots and has a single goal. While it was his excellence at the AHL-level and likelihood to make the NHL roster this season that had us rank Colborne almost universally at No. 2 in our prospect rankings, he doesn't have the track record in his previous call-ups as, say, Nazem Kadri did, to guarantee at full-time job.
How did we get here
The short answer is that if you look at that projected depth chart, there is a tonne of waste. Using McClement as the other wing on David Bolland's line wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if it opens up a skilled fourth line (seriously, how is it this is never talked about as a possibility in Toronto?)
Colborne is no longer waiver-exempt, according to Capgeek. Since he signed his first pro contract at age 20, he is exempt for three seasons, and the clock started ticking at the start of the 2010-2011 campaign. This complicates the situation as he either has to make the roster or be exposed. In the Leafs' current situation, since they can't land a roster player for him, I'm wondering just how prudent it would be to send him away for a bag of pucks. He makes just $600K, $50K above the minimum, and at the very least would be a cheap 13th forward that can give you a few good games in a top six role if you need him. I wouldn't expect him to be the guy to drag Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren up and down the ice every night as a regular, since even Jay McClement got killed at even strength last season.
There's no right or wrong answer here, but I don't think Colborne is going to get the Leafs much in terms of futures. He's certainly not worth a first round pick, and if we think of teams that need some depth at centre (Calgary, Vancouver) it's not like either of them are going to be willing to part with a prospect that's high up in the system that you can stick in the minors.
The Leafs are not in a cap situation to take on any roster player, which is the only thing of use that could come from trading Colborne. Even if he doesn't fit in the top six, it shouldn't be an issue that he's on the roster. You can't get through a road trip without extra skaters in the pressbox, much less a road trip. What makes Colborne so disposable that they won't even let him hang around the team? Something about buses, apparently.
Unless this is just Dreger blowing smoke to stir up trade winds and up Colborne's stock so the return would be more than nothing. Well, at least we've done our part.