By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4
Earlier this week, the Boston Bruins assigned Ryan Donato back down to Providence. The move seemed to be inevitable, as David Backes is returning to the lineup and Donato has noticeably been struggling. From the very start of the year, the team just has not seemed to find a good spot for Donato in the lineup. As a result of this, his offensive statistics have been truly lacking. In 11 games for the Bruins, he has only scored one goal and is a -4.
There is no question that Donato simply did not perform to the standards that the team had hoped he would. When looking at his amazing short stint with the team last season, it is fair to state that the team expected more from him now. In twelve regular season games, he had five goals and nine points. For a 22-year-old rookie, that truly was impressive. The excitement for him this season was very high, especially when looking at his collegiate success as well. Yet, it just did not click this time around.
However, even with all of this being the case, we have not seen the last of Donato. Younger players sometimes go through cold streaks. In all fairness, this move is entirely warranted by the team. In Providence, Donato will have the chance to be a top-six forward again and work on honing his offensive skills. At times this season with the big club, he looked invisible on the ice. A lot of this can be blamed on the fact that his line simply was unable to find chemistry together.
The biggest obstacle the Bruins have faced this season is their lack of secondary scoring. Donato is not the only player who has struggled for the team, but it is clear that he needs some time to refine his game altogether. It is better for him to play a lot of minutes in the AHL and find success. He simply is not a player who would have been able to fit on the fourth line. The team needs more defensive players with grit in those situations.
Donato’s time in Providence is going to carry a lot of significance moving forward. It is absolutely clear that the 2018 Hobey Baker finalist is still one of the top prospects that this team has. However, he was treading in the wrong direction with the limited amount of playing time he was receiving. With more chances to succeed in Providence and less overall pressure, this could be the best move for his career right now. Head coach Bruce Cassidy has even stated that he wants the youngster to work on becoming a complete player down there.
It is easy to point the finger at the player in a situation like this, but now is not the time to give up on Donato completely. One rough patch in the league does not mean the end of his career. Many prospects end up going through something like this and then develop into top-notch players. After the way he started off his NHL career, there is no reason to believe that he cannot reach that level of success. Yet, like Cassidy said, he needs to develop an all-around game.
It is only a matter of time before Donato will be back in Boston. He is clearly the first forward they will call up with an injury, and of course, they occur quite often. However, when it comes to the long-term, this is a player who still has a bright future. Hopefully, his time in Providence will wake him up and spark a whole new level of confidence. The Bruins could use that immensely.