Bruins’ Donato Trade Sparks Questions

The Boston Bruins traded Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick in exchange for Charlie Coyle last week. Coyle is certainly a nice addition to a Bruins team looking to solidify a playoff berth and make a run for the Stanley Cup. The Minnesota Wild have also received a valuable asset in Donato.

Minnesota Wild Ryan Donato
Minnesota Wild acquired Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick from the Boston Bruins in exchange for Charlie Coyle (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Though the 22-year-old wasn’t impressive during his 34-game stint in Boston during the 2018-19 season, he has appeared to have been sparked by the move out west. Three games into his career with Minnesota, Donato has put up a goal and three assists. He’s been averaging 15:55 of ice time in a green sweater compared to just 12:30 this season in black and gold.

Coyle is a great fit for Boston, most likely somewhere on their bottom-three lines. Perhaps best suited for a third-line role, he is certainly someone who boosts the Bruins’ chances come playoffs. He’s a part of the depth teams need to make it deep into the postseason. However, the question is whether or not Donato was the most suitable prospect to send the Wild’s way.

Were There Other Coyle Trade Options?

Donato may have been Boston’s most notable prospect – at least the most notable prospect the team was willing to part with. Though it seems like a fairly even trade on the surface, could the Bruins have done something else? They have a number of prospects with time in the NHL this season alone. If the B’s bumped up their offer of a fifth-round pick to a fourth or third, could they have given up another prospect instead?

Wild center Charlie Coyle
The Boston Bruins acquired Charlie Coyle, but could they have given up someone other than Ryan Donato? (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Boston has a fairly deep roster which is why some of their forward prospects have been squeezed out – namely Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Trent Frederic, Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman. A number of these players were simply unable to beat out more experienced players. However, a team like the Wild are less deep, which is why Donato has immediately stepped into the lineup and made an impact.

Many hockey analysts in Boston have stated that they would have rather seen Donato go in a bigger deal. Having been one of the Bruins most valuable assets on the trade block, he may have been someone who could have clinched a deal for a top-six winger. Then again, none of us took part in the conversations had between the two teams’ managers.

Perhaps the Wild weren’t interested in anyone else Boston was willing to give up. But, if Minnesota was interested in other assets, it may have been worth giving up one of those other assets and substituted the fifth-round pick for an earlier selection.

Did the Bruins give Donato a Real Chance?

The Bruins gave Donato 46 games to prove his worth at the NHL level. During that time the Bostonian registered 18 points – half of which came in 12 appearances during the latter half of the 2017-18 season. While it wasn’t a great performance, it’s arguable that a big contribution to Donato’s struggles was the Bruins themselves.

The former Bruin has expressed frustration in his former coaches: “It’s been a while since the coaches have had a lot of confidence in me to play me in all situations,” said Donato. As stated earlier in the article, the Wild have given the young forward significantly more ice time than he got in Boston. It makes onlookers wonder whether or not the Bruins really gave Donato a fair chance to shine.

Ryan Donato - Bruins
Boston could have contributed to Ryan Donato’s limited success as a Bruin. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Minnesota has given Donato the opportunity to play amongst their top two lines – an opportunity Donato got during the 2017-18 season. He notched five goals and four assists during that time and is yet again finding success when given a top-six role, this time in Minnesota. The Wild have also trusted their acquisition to simply play his game: “They just said, ‘Go and play,’ and that’s when I think I’m at my best when (coaches) have the confidence in me and they let me play,” stated Donato.

Coyle has seemed like a natural fit in Boston for a while. The soon-to-be 27-year-old put up 242 points in 479 games as a member of the Wild. He packs a punch with a physical edge, size and a good two-way game – all while hitting the cap for $3.2 million through the 2019-20 season.

However, it feels as the Bruins may have moved on from Donato too soon. It could very well prove to be a trade that comes back to haunt Boston if Donato has ever-increasing success in Minnesota. It’s safe to say Bruins fans have had enough of that since the turn of the century.