Leafs Sign Joe Colborne

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
July 11 2013 06:31AM

Slowly but surely, the Toronto Maple Leafs are chipping away at their remaining unsigned restricted free agents. Yesterday, Joe Colborne joined the family of players returning to the organization, signing a single year one-way deal that pays him $600,000. 

So.. has he earned it?

As I talked about in an article back in February, Joe Colborne is a case of a player who managed to set expectations high, swiftly crush everybody's hopes, but is rebounding back into original form. Colborne joined the Leafs organization in 2010/11 via the Tomas Kaberle trade, and scored 16 points in his first 20 games with the Toronto Marlies, before notching an assist in his first NHL game. He began the next year by scoring 16 points in 9 games and being named AHL player of the month, but disappointed many by only adding 23 more in the next 56 games.

What wasn't publically known was that Colborne had suffered a wrist injury, severely limiting his ability to disperse the puck and use his reach to get around other players. Granted, you can still blame him; the proper thing to do would have no doubt been to get surgery immediately rather than struggle through it from late November until the Calder Cup Finals in mid-June, but a tangible reason was out there for his failures. But could he recover?

The answer, at first, was not really. He still struggled to heal correctly post-surgery, which was the exclamation point on a poor start to 2012/13. However, Colborne had his wrist "pop" (scar tissue heal) in December. Guess what? It turned out that maybe he wasn't kidding, scoring 19 points in his next 21 games and 36 in his final 43. 

It may not be fair to bring Colborne back up to the "potential star centre" hype again. At this point, that's behind him. But he's still well on his way to being a legitimate NHL player, that can play in both top six and bottom six situations. A contract like this gives him the ability to prove that he's worth keeping on the team moving forward, with a cap hit low enough to have him on the roster whether they want to play him every night or not. It also gives him some guaranteed money. A 2-way that makes you $900,000 in the NHL and $150,000 in the AHL has more potential, but if he plays half a season in each league, he comes out with $525,000. It's the same reason you see so many fringe NHL/AHL vets go to Europe for a little less than NHL league minimum. 

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Marlies: Who's Left?

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
July 09 2013 06:29PM

 
With the Toronto Maple Leafs seemingly finished with adding players this offseason (can anybody see them being able to afford much else after signing RFAs?) there's been a lot of talk about what the roster will look like this year and how it stacks up to the one that was used throughout last year. After all, there have been a decent amount of changes to the team. But hold on. What's happened to the Toronto Marlies? After all, the team draws heavily from players throughout the Leafs organization, and the development of some of these players is crucial to the future NHL success. Let's take a look: 

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Devils Advocate

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
July 06 2013 01:56PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a lot of comittments yesterday, signing a couple of free agents, bringing back a few players, and letting a few walk. This comes shortly after a pair of buyouts and a trade acquisition. Opinions are all over the place: Some people hate the end result, some people are okay with it, some like and dislike certain parts, and others are taking the "waait and see" approach. Myself? I feel that this offseason will be seen as Dave Nonis' defining moment here, the one where he let a glimmer of hope and his personal reputation for being cautious to get to his head, making brash choices that only suit the short term.

But something I will admit, now that everything has sunk in? The Leafs are better suited for the now then they were a few weeks ago. 

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Calm Thoughts Before A Storm

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
July 05 2013 06:23AM

Mr. Nonis, I hope you're ready for what may be your defining moments in this city.

In just a few hours, the Toronto Maple Leafs join the rest of the National Hockey League in everybody's favourite off-ice hockey tradition; the beginning of Unrestricted Free Agency. This is, of course, a rather unique year, as the blue and white walk in with  the second most available cap space in the league. As the seconds tick down, a few thoughts have crossed the minds of many. I have a few as well:  

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A Year Of Vinny?

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
June 30 2013 12:34AM

 
The Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be hoping to make several moves over the course of this offseason, and rumours have been aplenty as a result. Think what you want about the Jonathan Bernier trade, and opinions really are all over the place (I'm still trying to convince myself to have a conclusive opinion), but it at least means that speculation involving goaltenders is over and done with for this offseason. The defence is probably the team's most practical concern, and potential moves range from retaining borderline players, to extending restricted free agents, and even possibly going after superstars. But whether you like it or not, the public pressure is on for Dave Nonis to acquire a top line centre.
 
Personally, I'm not of the belief that the Leafs need to acquire someone for this role. I think that while Nazem Kadri's production will not stay at the video-game like totals he put up last year, he's more than able to exceed the production of Tyler Bozak, while not being a "weak link" in a line with Phil Kessel and whichever of Lupul or van Reimsdyk plays left wing. Mikhail Grabovski's production dipped last year, but a decrease of and stylistic change of minutes has me optimistic that he can return to form on the second line. Joe Colborne appears to be back on track with a healed wrist, and Jay McClement is the fourth line centre of Toronto's dreams. I genuinely believe that they're in a good position. But this is a situation that won't be forgotten unless it's addressed. So, with all of that said, I think Vincent Lecavalier may be the best possible option. 

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