|Ryan Collins (6) at the 2017 North Star College Cup (Photo: Daniel Mick)|
Minnesota defenseman Ryan Collins has signed a three year, entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He will forego his senior season with the Gophers and report to Columbus' AHL affiliate in Cleveland to play this weekend.
The Bloomington, MN native was a 2014 2nd round selection (47th overall) of the Blue Jackets. Listed at 6'6", 220 lbs, Collins turned things around this season after a 2015-16 second half where everything that could go wrong went wrong. He ended up being scratched for large portions.
Collins finished his junior year with 3 goals and 9 points while helping defensive partner Ryan Zuhlsdorf adjust to the college game.
"Everything kind of clicks sometimes. Zuhlsdorf and I have found some chemistry. We have good communication on the back end and I think that's crucial for a D pair to have," Collins said in January. "It takes time. He's a freshman, he's new to the program. It takes time to learn those things. He's matured a lot this year and we've really started to click."
One reason for Columbus to sign Collins now rather than wait for after his senior season is that he could potentially become a free agent. The Blue Jackets already lost one Minnesota player (Mike Reilly) through that method.
Collins is the first early departure for the Gophers this offseason. With Collins leaving early and Jake Bischoff graduating, Minnesota will be down two defenders with at least one incoming freshman (Nate Knoepke) and one transfer (Tyler Nanne) starting play in 2017-18.