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It’s a well-known fact that the Boston Bruins have an impressive slew of young players. Ranging from the dynamic and speedy Jake DeBrusk to the all-around outstanding defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Two prime examples of recent successes of young players that have helped the Bruins expedite their rebuild. This season will be no different as a few players — including the talented Anders Bjork — will be looking to put together an impressive campaign to continue the trend of young players having success in Boston. Perhaps the most important young player in 2018-19 is Ryan Donato who, if all goes well, could end the season bringing home the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.
The Scituate, Mass. native was a 2014 draft choice of the Bruins (No. 56 overall) and burst onto the scene late last season. Donato appeared in 12 regular season games, scoring five goals and adding four assists and also played three postseason games, going scoreless. His impressive debut on March 19 included a goal and two assists.
Not a surprise. Ryan Donato gets his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. pic.twitter.com/w3rKn4EDRG
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) March 20, 2018
It wasn’t just Boston where Donato impressed last year. As a member of Team USA in the Winter Olympics, Donato was tied for the tournament lead in goal scoring with five goals. Despite Team USA’s seventh-place finish, Donato was one of the top players in the tournament. Donato’s Olympic experience can only be a good thing for his development as he looks to build off of it for the upcoming season.
Ryan Donato must like ice in Asia. Scored 5 goals at Olympics and now snaps one in this morning in NHL preseason gm in China. Bruins fwd with nice finish 2-on-1 holding puck & beating Gillies high blocker. Good read/set-up by JFK on play. #collegeguys
— Russ Bitely (@russbites) September 15, 2018
This past season playing for Harvard University, Donato was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, awarded to the top player in college hockey. Clearly, his talent is there, and the Bruins hope he can truly break out this season. Perhaps the biggest question for Donato is who will he play with. Seemingly every roster projection I’ve seen has him on a different line. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the top line with Patrice Bergeron or on the second line with David Krejci. It seems likely that he could even see time on the third line, but it remains to be seen who will be on that line.
Ryan Donato led @usahockey with five goals at the 2018 Olympics (5-1—6 in 5 GP).
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) September 8, 2018
Donato’s versatility is the best part of his game at the moment, and it gives the Bruins the opportunity to put him in a number of different situations to see where he’d be most useful. My best guess is he’ll be placed on the second line with Krejci and DeBrusk and look to make a formidable line to follow the top group. Donato will almost certainly see power play time and possibly with the top group. I would imagine that the Bruins will want him to shoot the puck as much as possible as they try to find another winger to match with Krejci. His shot is already a big weapon, and if you stayed up late to watch the first China game, you saw it firsthand.
Can’t believe Ryan Donato is still only 19 pic.twitter.com/Xz6Xfmc5BX
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) September 15, 2018
The Bruins will be looking for players to add secondary scoring this season to help out the top line and create a more balanced attack. If Donato can perform the way he’s capable of, this team will be even more dangerous than it already is and he may even take home some hardware as well. Playing only 15 games last season, Donato gave us all a glimpse of what could be the start of a great NHL career, and you can be sure this season he’ll try to prove he’s the real deal.