The top three centers on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ depth chart have made no shortage of headlines the past few months. Tyler Bozak got a big contract extension that many thought was too big; Nazem Kadri got a smaller contract extension, but not without a fight; and Dave Bolland scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks, before getting traded.
But there’s another center at Leafs camp that would love to get some attention. Joe Colborne was Boston’s 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft; this year, he’s hoping to finally make an impact at the NHL level.
Last season, the big 23-year-old had 42 points in 65 games for the AHL’s Marlies. He also suited up for two playoff games for the Leafs against the Bruins. And according to CBC’s Mike Brophy, Colborne’s skating — long considered a weakness — has appeared “vastly improved” at this year’s camp.
“I’m having fun and it helps my confidence knowing I was here last year during the playoffs,” Colborne said. “To step in and contribute was huge for me and now I know that I can come and do that on an everyday basis.
“It’s one thing to feel it and it’s another to go out and show it. I realize that and there are a lot of guys here who have proven themselves already and have shown they are NHL players. I am happy to come out and prove to people that I am an NHL player.”
Where, or if, Colborne fits with the Leafs will be worth watching. Maybe it’s as a fourth-line center. Maybe it’s on the wing. Or, it’s possible he could be trade bait, as he would have to clear waivers to be sent down to the AHL.