As the Boston Bruins' first-round pick (No. 16) in the 2008 NHL Draft, Colborne drew comparisons to former Bruins captain and Hart Trophy winner Joe Thornton. Once the 6-foot-5 center grew into his frame and could focus on being himself, the Calgary native proved to be a productive NHL player in his own right.
The second first-round pick out of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (Brent Sutter was the first, in 1980) Colborne spent two years at the University of Denver before joining Providence of the American Hockey League late in the 2009-10 season. Colborne spent more than a year with Providence before being sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs late in the 2010-11 season as part of a trade for defenseman Tomas Kaberle.