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Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: #17 - Nolan Collins

An OHL defender takes up spot 17 on our list of the top young players in the Penguins’ organization

Sudbury Wolves v Oshawa Generals Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

The 2023 version of our Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25 list gets into a potential late-round steal for the Penguins from the most recent draft.

2023 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Departed
#25: Daniel Laatsch
#24: Cooper Foster
#23: Thimo Nickl
#22: Dillon Hamaliuk
#21: Mikhail Ilyin
#20: Ty Glover
#19: Chase Yoder
#18: Emil Jarventie

#17 Nolan Collins, RHD

2022 Ranking: #25

Age: 19 (Apr 28, 2004)

Acquired Via: 2022 NHL Draft (Round 6 - No. 167 overall)

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 194 pounds

Elite Prospects resume:

It was a solid 2022-23 season for Collins, his second year in the OHL. He doubled his goal output from four to eight and saw drastic increases in assists (14 to 22) and points (18 to 30) from his rookie major junior campaign.

Some of those offensive numbers were evidenced in this great finish from March to step up in the play and rip a top-shelf shot against Hamilton.

Collins added another highlight and example of jumping up in the offensive zone in March here too in a game against Barrie.

Unfortunately for Collins, his season was cut short by injury and he was unable to play in the OHL playoffs this spring.

While those highlights are flashy and nice to see some offensive instincts and ability, no one is going to mistake Collins for Erik Karlsson. Two-way play and strong defensive effort is what will carry Collins at the next level. In one such instance while protecting a lead late in a game, Collins showcased that by blocking a shot and it led to an empty net goal for his team.

Having a modicum of production was enough to get Collins to start trending up according to the TopDown data comparing outputs for prospects at certain ages with the likelihood of future success.

“Becoming an NHLer” is defined as 200+ career games with a positive WAR is a high bar for anyone, and Collins has a ways to go. But players have to start somewhere and Collins has advanced to being an alternate captain in Sudbury. He will head back to the OHL for the 2023-24 season and will be one of the older players and should be one of the better defenders in that league this year.

If the arrow keeps pointing up and Collins builds upon what he did this past season, it should be good enough to earn a pro contract from the Pens and to see what he can do at the next level down the line. He remains a long-term prospect, but one that is making some quiet positive strides.