For the better part of a week, there had been speculation that the Calgary Flames were after Toronto Maple Leafs' prospect Joe Colborne.
Colborne was, after all, a Calgary native. He joined the Leafs in a trade engineered by Brian Burke, now the Flames' president of hockey operations. And the Leafs were in salary-cap purgatory, needing to shed salaries from their payroll to get under the reduced $64.3-million salary cap for the coming season.
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The expectation was that to acquire Colborne, who happens to be from Calgary originally, the Flames might need to take on additional players from Toronto - such as a John Michael Liles, who the Leafs will likely assign to the minors in the coming days.
But in the end, the Flames made a genuine hockey deal for the 23-year-old prospect. Following the Leafs' final exhibition outing Saturday night, Toronto traded Colborne to Calgary for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL entry draft.
In a statement, Calgary's general manager Jay Feaster said the Flames had internally had "many discussions this past year about Joe, but never made an offer. With the opportunity to speak with Brian Burke and learn about Joe's hockey sense and character from someone who had him as a player and knows him so well, it became clear to us that this is the type of young, big centre we need. He fits in very well with our rebuild and provides size up the middle which we believe is critical going forward. The fact that he is from Calgary is an added bonus. We look forward to welcoming him to the Flames family."
Colborne was originally drafted in the first round (16th overall) in the 2008 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins. Last season he scored 14 goals and added 28 assists for 42 points in 65 games for the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League in addition to playing five games with the Maple Leafs.
Centre is an organizational weak link in Calgary, so the expectation is that Colborne will be in the starting line-up when the Flames open the season next Thursday in Washington against the Capitals.