Joe Colborne ‘closer’ to new deal with Calgary Flames

Brain Burke drops by Prime Time Sports to talk about Calgary’s coaching vacancy, his thoughts on the combine, and the NHL Draft.

Brad Treliving needs two hands to count all the restricted free agent forwards he must make decisions on this off-season.

The Calgary Flames‘ busy general manager has already begun contract negotiations with Joe Colborne.

Treliving must find a new head coach and prepare for the NHL Draft this month, but that didn’t stop him from opening up talks with Colborne’s agent, J.P. Barry, upon returning from Russia last month, when he co-GM’d Team Canada to an IIHF world championship.

“Since he’s been back, I know we’ve been in some talks, and hopefully we’re getting closer and closer,” Colborne told Sportsnet 960 The Fan on Wednesday.

“I’m not thinking that it’s going to take too, too long here.”

LISTEN: Joe Colborne talks contract situation and Colborne’s Forces

The 26-year-old Colborne grew up just 25 minutes from the Saddledome and sounded optimistic about his future in the city as he discussed his Colborne’s Forces event on-air.

With a solid No. 1 goaltender still needed and star building blocks Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan also facing free agency this summer, it’s natural to wonder if salary-cap concerns might make Colborne the odd man out.

Add less-expensive young forwards Josh Jooris, Drew Shore and Turner Elson, plus goaltending prospect Joni Ortio to the Flames’ 2016 RFA class, and the math gets tricky.

Colborne and Calgary appear eager to find common ground.

“The thing with Joe is, he’s a big body who has got ability and they’re not growing on trees,” Treliving told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis on March 30.

“I know he likes it here and we like him. It’s all got to fit in.”

Despite his team’s disappointing finish, the 26-year-old centre is coming off a breakout season statistically.

Career highs in goals (19), assists (25) and points (44), combined with a career low in penalty minutes (27), should earn the 2008 first-round draft pick a nice raise and longer commitment from the modest two-year, $2.55-million bridge deal that expires July 1. All but five of his points came during five-on-five.

Among the Flames’ regular forwards, Colborne ranked sixth in ice time (15:09).

Critics have noted, however, that the bulk of Colborne’s production came in the back half of the season, with Calgary’s playoff hopes vanquished.

“Generally speaking, I caution people at this time of the year, when your team is out of it, putting a whole lot of stock into stats,” Treliving said.

More alarming: Colborne’s sky-high shooting percentage of 19 per cent this season — tops among all Flames — should come back down to earth next season. He converted 11.9 per cent of his shots in 2014-15 and 12.5 per cent in 2013-14.

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