Former Bruins pick Colborne could be Kessel’s sidekick in Toronto

Colborne/By S. Bradley

Which Bruins winger or center will general manager Brian Burke acquire next to complete his future line of ex-Boston players in Toronto?

Sometime soon, Burke might have a line on the ice featuring two ex-members of the black-and-gold-wearing family. Joe Colborne could project as a winger or center now that he’s in blue and white after the deal that landed Tomas Kaberle in Boston yesterday.

Maybe someday he’ll center Phil Kessel or play on the opposite wing as the veteran speedster. There was some talk last night that Colborne could be reunited with his former college linemate Tyler Bozak, who’s been centering Kessel’s line lately. Regardless of position, Colborne said yesterday the Leafs are expecting him to do what he does best.

“The big thing [they said] was just go out and play my game,” he told the assembled media after the Toronto Marlies (AHL)  game last night. “Everybody kind of echoed that they’ve been watching me play and they liked what they saw. So don’t go out there and try to be something I’m not.

“I’m just going to go out there and try to show what I can do.”

Colborne, who will report to the Marlies after skating in 55 games for Boston’s Providence (AHL) farm club in his this his first pro season, played mostly center for the P-Bruins. He said he has improved his ability to protect the puck and make plays using his frame over the course of this season and his college career. He’s never going to be a physical presence, which is something Burke acknowledged yesterday as well.

That’s why Colborne might never have worked out in Boston. He was a bit of a reach on that draft day in ’08, and like Joe Thornton and Blake Wheeler before him, he might’ve been destined to be criticized by the Boston faithful for not playing “big and bad” enough to pull a Bruins sweater on over his large frame on nightly basis.

Colborne was always an affable sort from that draft day all through his career with the Bruins organization and this season with Providence. My lasting impression of him will be from last summer, when he took the initiative to call several of the Bruins’ 2010 draft picks, including No. 2 overall pick Tyler Seguin, to get them ready for development camp in July. With the addition of Seguin, Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight to an already-crowded pool of talented young forwards, Colborne was going to be in for some stiff competition. But he made sure everyone knew they were on the same side at the end of the day.

Now he’ll take that classy personality and a solid pair of hockey hands to the Toronto organization. The questions was posed today: what if Colborne turns out to be a better NHL center than Seguin? Well, that’s not likely to happen. And even if it did, it shouldn’t matter to the Bruins. They made their trade to get better for today and the next couple months, which they hope will turn into a couple more all the way until June. And they still have Seguin, Jordan Caron, Max Sauve and the rest to help down the road.

The only way this deal turns into a total bust for the Bruins is if Kaberle can’t get them past the first round of the playoffs and then walks as a free agent. Regardless of what happens in Boston, Colborne will probably be the biggest winner of the trade because he’s headed to a rebuilding franchise where he’s going to get a great chance to perform in the NHL in the near future.

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