Countdown to Bruins training camp: Ryan Donato


From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2018-19 Bruins. Today: Ryan Donato


The 22-year-old Donato had a whirlwind season that finished with him in Boston skating for his hometown Bruins, and doing plenty of scoring when he was in the lineup. The former Harvard standout got a 12-game audition at the end of the regular season and even got a couple of playoff games under his belt, and should see plenty more action this season based on everything he did offensively. In fact given that the Bruins didn’t net the big sniper they were chasing after this summer, a guy like Donato could factor very heavily in Boston’s goal-scoring needs on the wing.  

What Happened Last Year: Donato started with a dominant season at Harvard University where he scored 26 goals in 29 games for the Crimson, and then starred for Team USA at the Olympics as one of their biggest offensive threats. After he was finished with the amateur end of things, Donato opted to leave one year of eligibility at Harvard by signing an entry level deal with the Bruins. Donato continued to score at the NHL level with five goals and nine points in 12 games for the Black and Gold at the end of the regular season. It was clear that Donato needed some work defensively and also along the boards, but you can’t teach the instincts and goal-scoring shooter’s touch that Donato put on display in Boston. The kid can shoot the puck and score the puck, and those things will be very important for the B’s this season.  

Questions To Be Answered This Season: The question for Donato is where exactly he’s going to fit into the picture with the Bruins this season. First of all he’ll need to show a better grasp of the two-way game and a little more ability to battle along the boards, but Donato is the kind of kid that’s going to work on any shortcomings in his game. It would be a surprise at this point if he needs to go to the AHL to refine any of those aspects to his game. Beyond that it’s about where he fits into the mix along with the other talented wingers in Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen, and finding a place in the top-9 once the regular season gets going. Nothing is guaranteed for Donato at this point and it’s pretty crowded on the left side unless Danton Heinen swings over to right wing, but the sense here is that Donato will work his way into an everyday spot for the Black and Gold.

In Their Words: “It’s a different animal, the NHL. I’m going to come back in the best shape of my life, and I’ll be ready to go when I get back here. I know what to expect now. I came in at the hardest part of the season. It’s not easy to come in right from college right to here, and it’s a huge jump. Now, at least, I know what to expect at the toughest point of the year, so I’ll be ready and hopefully prepare my body to withstand that.” –Ryan Donato, on his approach to his first full NHL season after getting his feet wet at the end of last season.  

Overall Outlook: The ridiculous 2014 NHL Draft class continues to flourish for the Bruins as David Pastrnak, Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork were all selected, and are all expected to be on the roster for this upcoming season. Donato was the second Bruins pick in that very successful weekend, and he’s looking to really get things going with his first full season as a professional. Donato has the scorer’s shot and release, he has the mindset to constantly shoot the puck when given an inch and he’s got the kind of instincts and hockey smarts that come with being the son of an NHL player. All the ingredients are there for Donato be a big breakout player for the Bruins this upcoming season, and they’re certainly looking for one of their young forwards to step up offensively after missing out on Ilya Kovalchuk and John Tavares over the summer. 


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