Big Expectations For Bruins Forward Donato In 2018-19

(03/19/2018- Boston, MA) Boston Bruins center Ryan Donato reacts after scoring his first career goal in his first career game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden on Monday, March 19, 2018. Staff Photo by Matt West(Photo Credit – Matt West)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Last season was a busy one for Ryan Donato that ended up entailing his final year at Harvard University, and his first stints as a USA Olympian and Boston Bruin. This time around, the 2018-2019 season holds the opportunity to go all-in as a member of the Bruins organization in his first full NHL season.

Despite not seeing the ice much in the playoffs and not tallying a point, Donato made an excellent first impression late in the regular season. Putting up nine points in 12 regular season games is nothing to glance over, and it presented an idea of what to expect from Ryan Donato. Maybe not that high of a pace regarding points right off the bat, but the idea that he can seriously contribute at the NHL level. What was impressive outside of the numbers aspect of his late-season performance, was the fact that he was doing it on the wing instead of his natural position of center.

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Being a right-winger on a team like the Bruins will give Ryan plenty of possible situations to play in with the current state of their roster. On top of a top-nine right-wing role could be some power play time on the half-wall, much like Ryan Spooner used to do. His positional versatility allows him to play any forward position, which could come in handy with injuries or just simply a change of plans in the lineup.

The forward core in Boston is shaping up to be one with great depth. Danton Heinen put up 47 points in 77 games last season while spending a good chunk of his ice-time on the third line. Ryan Donato could be put in a similar situation to Heinen come the 2018-2019 season. In Heinen’s career up to this point, he has played both left and right wing, in multiple different situations.

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Whether Donato holds a third-line wing position opposite say Danton Heinen or holds a top-six role, he’ll have very capable linemates to work with. The presence of options for Donato gives him a great platform to succeed in one singular role for much of the season or to not let the possibility of being juggled around in the forward core bother him and his growth as a player.

There’s a chance that the possibility of winning the Calder Memorial Trophy is in the back of Ryan’s mind somewhere, despite the likely presence of many other very skilled rookies across the NHL. The top two picks from the 2018 NHL Draft –– Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov, are two of a large number of possible Calder candidates outside of Donato.

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The Scituate, Massachusetts native has plenty to look forward to for this upcoming season and beyond on a formidable Eastern Conference team like the Bruins. Whether it is on the left side, right side, or even back in the middle like his time before Boston, Donato will have the opportunity to turn-and-burn with a lot of skill surrounding him in the Bruins’ lineup. Things have gone pretty well for young wingers as of late for the Bruins, just ask Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen. Ryan Donato looks to be the next man up in the impressive crop of young Bruins wingers.

(Via NHL on YouTube)

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