NMU Coach: NHL Contract Could be in the Cards for Collins

Today, the [i]Arizona Republic[/i] published an article stating the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Arizona, would finally be getting an ice rink. According to Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Dusty Collins, Gilbert's favorite son, it's coming just a little too late as Collins was in town to prepare for this week's Lightning Prospect Camp but had trouble finding ice on which to practice. While the fact that Gilbert, Arizona may be getting an ice rink affects little to no one among Lightning prospect followers, the fact that the article sheds some light on Collins' future should. Collins, a 6-3 center for Northern Michigan University (NMU), was a surprise fifth round pick of the Lightning in 2004 because of his work ethic -- a prioritized ingredient for choosing who does and does not receive a contract offer for Tampa Bay. The [i]Republic[/i] asked NMU coach and former NHL assistant coach Walt Kyle what Collins, who had four goals and six assists as a junior last season, brings to a team. Kyle was sure to point out Collins' work ethic and rise from bottom-liner to shut-down center with the Wildcats. "He is the center we put out there against the other team's top line and he handles them. He came in early as a bottom-of-the-lineup guy but he just continued to work and get better and better," Kyle told the [i]Republic[/i]. Asked about Collins' chances to be just the second Arizona-born player to make the NHL, Kyle stated, "College hockey is like college football or basketball; sometimes you take a chance because you have a good feeling about a kid, like we had about Dusty," Kyle said. "He was a big, raw kid (6 feet 3, 215 pounds). He's had to work to get to the level he's at now and he has a real chance at playing in the NHL."