WILMINGTON, Mass. — Ryan Donato doesn’t yet know where he will play hockey next season, but for right now, he’s just living the dream wearing the sweater of the team he grew up cheering for.
The Bruins selected the Dexter School (Brookline, Mass.) star with the 56th overall selection (second round) in the 2014 NHL draft. It was a dream come true for the 18-year-old forward, whose dad Ted Donato spent eight seasons with the Black and Gold.
“I was on cloud nine, but it didn’t feel real until now, skating with some of the guys and putting on the jersey,” Donato told reporters Wednesday at the Bruins’ development camp.
Donato isn’t sure if he will return to Dexter or play in the USHL for the 2014-15 season but hopes to have a better idea over the next week or so.
“After I talk to the Bruins I’ll have a clear image in my mind,” he said.
One of his goals is to play for Harvard, where his father coaches the men’s hockey team. It’s possible Donato could play for the Crimson as soon as 2015-16.
Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney told the media after Wednesday’s session that the team will talk to Donato and his family and share its thoughts on where he should play next season. The final decision will be made by the player and his family.
Donato tallied 78 points (30 goals, 48 assists) in 30 games for Dexter last season. He has a high hockey IQ, a powerful shot and plays a responsible defensive game. His ability to finish around the net and battle for puck possession along the boards and below the goal line are valuable skills. It also takes just a few minutes of conversation to realize Donato is a high-character kid who’s humble and willing to work hard.
His all-around skill set makes him an exciting center prospect, but he understands there are a few areas to improve over the summer.
“I’m going to work on my skating a little bit, my explosiveness,” Donato said. “I think that’s what I’ll work on the most, just getting my legs stronger and bigger.”