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Joe Colborne was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins back in 2008 and acquired by the Leafs at the the 2011 trade deadline in exchange for Tomas Kaberle.
At the time of the trade, fans were hopeful that the Leafs had finally found the big-bodied and offensively gifted center the team has been desperately seeking since the departure of legend Mats Sundin.
Kaberle's precipitous decline has made the deal look like a steal for the Buds, but Colborne has yet to live up to expectations, and many fans have grown impatient waiting for the big center to see regular playing time with the Leafs.
The wait appears to be over.
After posting 30 goals and 81 points over two seasons with the Marlies to go along with a cameo in a pair of playoff games for the Maple Leafs this past season, Colborne appears to be on the brink of being an everyday NHL player. With Matt Frattin now residing in Hollywood and cap space at a premium, it appears unlikely the Leafs will seek options outside of the organization to fill the vacancy on the third line, and Colborne is the likely choice.
What's less clear, however, is if the 23-year-old will play up the middle (his natural position) or on the wing. His sub-par defensive game suggests he could be moved to the wing, but his superiority on the draws over current Maple Leafs pivots Nazem Kadri and Dave Bolland and his impressive size say otherwise.
Regardless of what position he plays, Leafs fans should be excited to see what Colborne can do at the NHL level. His penchant for inconsistent play may force the Leafs to scratch him or even demote at times during the season, but if Colborne shows growth in his game, 2013-14 should be seen as a successful campaign.