Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Boston Bruins Prospects Series: #2 Joe Colborne

Joe Colborne, C
6-5, 216
January 30, 1990
Shoots: Left
Boston's 1st choice, 16th overall in 2008 Draft
Signing status: Signed through 2013

Talent Analysis

Physical: Colborne has made a quantum leap in his physical development, having added almost 30 pounds of muscle to his long, lanky frame since the B's drafted him two years ago with the 16th overall pick and he tipped the scales at about 190 pounds. Size creates matchup nightmares for defensemen charged with moving him from out from in front of the net and goalies who are trying to maintain sightlines to the puck on the outside. Outstanding skater with good initial burst and a long stride that gets him up to speed quickly. Balanced and strong on his skates despite the high center of gravity. Excellent east-west lateral agility and ability to shift into multiple gears on the fly. Very good stickhandler; deftly controls the puck and can make pinpoint passes in all situations. Showed an ability to dangle with the puck in heavy traffic areas, which should help him to generate offense at the next level. Elite shooter; has an NHL-caliber release and can get his hard shot off in an instant. Has a cannon of a slap shot that he unleashed at camp; needs to use it more. Will need to continue his progression in physicality since being drafted; has improved in his willingness to initiate contract and work in the dirty areas in front of the net and in the corners, but must prove himself at the pro level now against bigger, stronger more experienced competition.

Intangibles: Like Seguin, Colborne has high-end sight and a hockey IQ; he's able to survey the ice, read the play instinctively and hit the open man or keep the play alive. Another character youngster who was stung by some of the pre-draft criticisms about his heart/compete level because of his family's wealth, and has dedicated the last two years to proving the naysayers wrong. Has worked extremely hard to prepare himself physically, but will need to apply that same work ethic to his competitive drive and handling the inevitable adversity he'll face as he transitions from the NCAA to his first fulls season in the pros. Also like Seguin, Colborne carried himself as a model citizen at camp, staying on the ice late to help teammates and continue honing his skills. Affable and approachable, Colborne comes off as someone who understands his own shortcomings and realizes that his body of work is still incomplete.

2010 Boston Bruins Development Camp assessment
One of the more dominant performers at the camp, Colborne continues his development on an upward curve. He's had the benefit of two other summer sessions in Wilmington, but with the knowledge that unlike the previous two, he'll actually be in the mix for an NHL job come September, he took a business-like approach and was on target with expectations given his impressive talent and experience within the organization. Colborne displayed high-end skills throughout camp and was a productive, involved player during the scrimmages. He scored several goals by going to the front of the net and wiring passes home with his wicked one-timer and release. Colborne can dangle in heavy traffic and made several eye-popping plays in scrimmage and during drills to skate through multiple players, protect the puck and then dish to a wide-open teammate for an easy tap-in (Alexander Fallstrom seemed to be the one who benefited most from Colborne's largesse) He also took on an active leadership role with the players who were in their very first setting with the Bruins, receiving praise from first-time prospects like Fallstrom, Ryan Spooner and Craig Cunningham for going out of his way to lead by example and be a peer mentor for them early on.

The problem with being on a team with Tyler Seguin is that you can't have two No. 1 centers, but Colborne could be a 1A kind of guy and solid No. 2 in time (of course Marc Savard, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron will make that a tough road). He had the best success of his two-year NCAA career when he moved to the wing, so like Seguin, he might have to play there before he can nail down a spot at center. However, the organization seems pretty set on developing Colborne at center and taking full advantage of his impressive size and skill package. On talent alone, Colborne is as impressive a prospect as they come, and he talks a good game about recognizing his shortcomings and working to address them. Now, as he enters his rookie pro season, the proof will be in the pudding. He showed some real upside in his first couple of AHL games with Providence, but hit the wall. Sustaining his success and strong play in all zones over the course of an 80+ game season will be Colborne's biggest challenge, but he's talented enough to get some games in Boston this year depending on the situation.

"I think the biggest thing is to be more vocal. I've tried to do that and step up in areas where everyone's kind of looking around to see how to do it. And, I remember how I felt two years ago coming in and I had no idea what to expect. So, I've just tried to be really open with the new guys on what to expect, what's going to be coming up later in the week and they've all kind of adapated really well and everyone's starting to jell as a team. We're looking forward to a good rest of the week."- Joe Colborne, Development Camp, Wilmington, Mass; July 6-10, 2010

"When I showed up at Denver (University) I was-- a lot of people called me a 'stringbean', and I was just a skinny little kid. I just now weighed in at just under 216, but when I've been training I've been up to 218, 219. But, it's been great. What they did for me was unbelievable. They took a skinny kid, added 30 pounds to me and really taught me the more physical side of the game. I learned to battle in the corners against some big boys. Every day in practice was just a grind to make sure I had d-men leaning on me. Especially out here, I felt stronger and I am playing against some younger guys again, but I felt strong out there, felt quick."- Joe Colborne to B2010DW

"Well, today (Saturday), we weren't expecting the amount of people who came out at all. We showed up an hour and fifteen minutes before the practice like we usually do and the parking lot was packed; people were out there walking around and we were just in shock. It was unbelievable and it was exciting. Everyone was having fun out there and cheering every time someone scores a nice goal. It was unbelievable and it really gets you excited for training camp."- Joe Colborne to B2010DW

"Being from Calgary, it gets pretty warm, but nothing like this week (in Boston) and how hot it was. And to have those people sitting out there for hours (in Bruins jerseys) waiting for autographs and coming early to the rink-- I have so much respect for them. And that's what makes hockey in Boston so much fun and that's what excites me so much about being a part of this organization to hopefully make the jump to the Bruins pretty quickly."- Joe Colborne to B2010DW

"This (camp) experience opened my eyes and I'm getting pretty close to fulfilling my dream of playing in the NHL-- it's right on the tip of your finger. So, it's going to be an unbelievable month of training, probably my best ever. And, I look forward to coming back to camp heavier, faster amd stronger. I feel like it's all starting to come together; my reactions just feel better. I feel like I'm finally used to this body and it's going to continue to be a work in progress, but the steps I've made, I'm kinda showing how important these camps are to the development of different guys personally, I think that coming here for the last couple of years has been monumental to my progress."- Joe Colborne to B2010DW

The Final Word
Colborne is the prototypical Boston Bruins prospect: He's big, skates extremely well, is highly skilled and brings the kind of character, selflessness and coachability that on the face of things would guarantee his stardom in this town for years. That said, he's still got to prove that he can be more of a force in all areas of the ice and is not just a big, skilled guy with limitations as Blake Wheeler has demonstrated to the B's. If looking good and sounding good were all that mattered, then Colborne would be a future Hall of Famer, but it will take much more than that for him to have success. He'll be set up well if he plays in the AHL under head coach Rob Murray this season. Murr is like his mentor, Scott Gordon, in that he's intelligent and demanding, and has got a knack for developing talent/getting the most out of them. I think you'll see the Providence Bruins bounce back strong with the team they'll ice this season, especially if Colborne is playing a key role for them. In looking at how he performed at Denver when he shifted to the wing, his first AHL game last spring and his standout performance in Wilmington last week, he's a close second place to Seguin in the organization's prospect depth chart.

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