Colborne doesn't want to be trade-bait Joe

A year ago, Joe Colborne was the prospect involved in a trade by the Maple Leafs, coming to Toronto in a deal that sent defenceman Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins.

For Colborne, a 6-foot-5, 213-pound centre with the Toronto Marlies, once was fine, thanks.

If Leafs general manager Brian Burke makes a swap before the deadline, and many across the National Hockey League think he will, there’s an excellent chance he will have to part with a talented young player.

A call from Burke telling him to pack up is one Colborne does not want to get.

“I want to be the one the Leafs look (upon) to be their No. 1 go-to guy,” Colborne said. “It’s something I’m striving for. When I wake up every day and come to the rink, that’s the goal I have.”

Colborne could develop into that player. But he is not yet ready to make a large impact, and Burke wants help at centre before the Leafs make their final run to a potential playoff spot.

Prior to the Marlies’ home game against Adirondack on Tuesday night, Colborne had 33 points (15 goals and 18 assists) in 39 games for the Leafs’ AHL affiliate. He recorded four points in nine games with the Leafs during a stint in late November and early December, and since he was returned to the Marlies, has worked at buckling down defensively.

He doesn’t have much choice, as he won’t make it with the Leafs unless they can trust him when the puck is not on his stick. Not everyone uses plus-minus as the end all and be all, but it’s worth noting that Colborne was tied for the Marlies’ lead at plus-10 heading into Tuesday’s game.