BRIGHTON, Mass. — Ryan Donato quickly has become one of the Boston Bruins’ best prospects after being selected in the second round of the 2014 NHL draft.
The Harvard sophomore could find his way to the NHL toward the end of the regular season after the Crimson’s season concludes. Such a scenario would create even more excitement entering the Stanley Cup playoffs, but B’s general manager Don Sweeney made it clear Monday that no decision on Donato, or any other prospect in a similar situation, has been made at this point.
“Well, that will be Ryan, his family and his representative, family advisor’s decision at that appropriate time,” Sweeney said. “He’s got a couple of weeks left in the regular season and playoffs, and then we’re going to have a conversation, as we do with all of our players, to project whether or not they feel and we feel that they are ready to come in.”
One of the aspects of Donato’s game that made him an intriguing prospect in the 2014 draft was his versatility. He can create scoring chances for himself and teammates as a center or winger, and the B’s see him as more of the latter.
“I think we project him as a winger,” Sweeney said. “It’s great, and (Harvard head coach Ted Donato) and I talked about this before the season as he was projecting where he would play. I think it’s tremendous that he is playing center this year, because he’ll have a much better appreciation for what it takes to play down low. Really, providing offense from goal line to goal line is much more difficult as a center than it is as a winger. The way he shoots the puck, though, I anticipate him making a smoother transition as a winger on either side of the ice, but it’s nice that he is learning to play, as I said, below the goal line and in his own end, as well.”
Donato was one of the best players at the men’s hockey tournament during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He scored five goals and helped lead the United States to the quarterfinals.
“As for the Olympics, obviously, he scored a lot of nice goals and offensively I think was dynamic in the tournament at times,” Sweeney said. “So we’re excited about his overall development path. He has indicated that he is excited about playing for the Boston Bruins when and if he makes that decision.”
The Bruins added a lot of forward depth before Monday’s NHL trade deadline, acquiring Rick Nash, Brian Gionta and Tommy Wingels. Still, Donato has shown an impressive offensive skill set during his time at Harvard, and if he joins the Bruins late in the season, Boston could have the deepest group of forwards in the Stanley Cup playoffs.