After weeks of grueling drills and roster cuts, the Capitals’ Opening Night roster has a few new names penciled in. One of them is Sean Collins, a six-foot, three, 184-pound wing who is entering his first season in DC. After an impressive training camp, Collins, 26, has earned himself a spot on the team. Collins isn’t a high-scoring player, but his hard work and determination is what appealed him to Barry Trotz and the coaching staff. According to Trotz: “He’s not going to wow you as a sexy player. He’s going to wow you with his consistency and the little things that Joel Ward did for many years here.”
Collins signed a one-year, two-way contract this past summer with the Caps, after a seven-year stint with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who drafted him in the seventh-round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Collins’ style of play and role should be similar to Ward’s. Collins saw considerable penalty-killing time in the preseason, and it’s possible he continues that. In just 19 career games, Collins has three assists, meaning this could be his first true shot at establishing himself as an everyday NHL player. The Capitals have had success finding relatively unknown players and turning them into NHL regulars (the name Matt Hendricks comes to mind). Collins also brings a net-front presence the Caps have been without since Ward and Eric Fehr left this summer. In one of the first preseason games, Collins scored while finding a loose puck in front of the net. He also plays a solid defensive game, something that has earned the praise of Trotz.
If Collins proves he belongs in the NHL, the Capitals could have found a real bargain in free agency. The good thing about Collins is that he is still just 26-years old and in 2014-15, put up 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 64 games with Columbus’ AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. In 2013-14, he posted 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists). If he can put up at least 20-25 points, Collins could find himself in a Capitals sweater for the foreseeable future. No. 53 should be a player fans keep an eye on this season, as he will undoubtedly be one of the Capitals’ hardest-working players this season.
***The name Sean Collins may sound vaguely familiar to Capitals as the Caps employed a defenseman by that name a few years ago***
By Michael Fleetwood