Colorado Avalanche: What Will Joe Colborne’s Role Be?

Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche forward Joe Colborne was brought in as a utility option for the team because he can play all the forward positions, but where will he end up?

According to the Denver Post, when Colorado Avalanche forward Joe Colborne was offered a contract during the early stages of free agency he was sold on coming to Colorado for a lot of different reasons, but one stood out the most:

"The big thing for me was where I would fit in with the team. Just talking to Joe and hearing his passion and where he saw my role on the team is what really sold me on it."

But what is that role? Will he play on the third line or in the top six? Will he play wing or center? That’s a question that is coming up a lot here recently at MHS.

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It’s a question that Joe Colborne didn’t even know the answer to himself when he was asked where he would play after signing. I doubt he even knows now:

"I asked Joe if he saw me on the wing or center, and he said ‘We don’t really care. We see you doing both.’ He mentioned guys like [Matt] Duchene, who can play center or wing, and [Nathan] MacKinnon, who has played both. You can change based on lineups, matchups, and it gives you a bunch of options."

I guess he’ll be playing both, but will that be in the top six, or in the bottom six? Better yet, where is his role better suited?

Discussing Joe Colborne’s Role

There’s no way to know how Jared Bednar will utilize Joe Colborne yet. Nonetheless, there are a few things to consider when accurately assigning a role for Colborne.

First, you have to consider the fact that last season was the first season where he broke the 30 point mark, notching 44 points in 73 games. That’s nearly a 50 point pace in 82 games.

Second — unfortunately — he did that with a 19 percent shooting percentage, which is not sustainable.

Third — luckily — this will only be his fourth full season in the NHL, so he can obviously still improve at the peak age of 26 years old.

Finally, if he can continue to improve, or even produce at the same level as last season, then Joe Colborne is without a doubt a top six player.

So, it really all comes down to that shooting percentage, and how much he continues to grow/has grown over the off season. Hopefully he can do some things like this:

Colborne is coming to a new team, and will certainly want to make his mark as soon as possible, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start in the top six this season.

Nonetheless, the Avalanche have a lot of versatility at the center position, and a lot of potential options in the top six, so perhaps Colborne is better suited to a third line scoring role.

Where Will Colborne Likely Fit?

I think he likely fits in a third line scoring role to start. And, I think that his increased role at center during training camp due to the World Cup is going to help him solidify a start at third line center.

I’ve discussed this a lot recently, but I’m not sure that decision necessarily comes down to Colborne. It might instead come down to where Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Carl Soderberg end up.

If either Duchene or MacKinnon are playing wing, then Soderberg likely slots in at second line center. That would obviously create a hole at third line center, and Colborne is likely a better option than Mikhail Grigorenko, John Mitchell, or Mikko Rantanen for that spot.

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However, Rantanen has been playing a lot of center recently, and he’ll also be getting some extra time in that slot because of the World Cup.

Team North America did win in overtime today, so if Russia wins their next game in any capacity, then North America will not be moving on. That Obviously means that Nathan MacKinnon would be coming back to training camp with some time to get into most — if not all — of the preseason games.

Nonetheless, Matt Duchene is likely to be in this tournament for the long haul. Team Sweden is also moving on, so Carl Soderberg and Gabe Landeskog are going to be in the tournament for at least one more game.


There are still some top six slots open for the taking, and it should be a real competitive camp. With key top six players missing because of the World Cup, Joe Colborne has a chance to solidify a role in the top six.

However, his ability to play that role will depend on whether or not he is able to continue to improve and produce at a rate similar to his production last season.

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Colborne is striding into his peak and he’s also entering his fourth season, so hopefully he can take the next step in his development.

That next step logically involves him becoming a perennial top six forward. Although, even if he just ends up playing as a real legitimate third line scoring center/winger, the Avalanche will have made a big steal in free agency.