The Boston Bruins have signed forward Ryan Donato to a two-year entry-level contract, the team announced Sunday. Donato was originally a second-round pick of the Bruins in 2014 in a draft class that is proving to be one of their best classes in franchise history.
Bruins sign Ryan Donato to entry-level contract: https://t.co/oQbqCL7JFF
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 18, 2018
Donato just completed his junior season at Harvard – a year that saw him lead the Crimson in scoring with 26 goals and 43 points in 29 games. His impressive season earned him the award for ECAC Hockey player of the year for 2017-18. Donato is also a finalist for the Hobey Baker award this season. He also excelled in the postseason with the Crimson, ultimately failing to advance past the ECAC semifinals, however.
It was an exciting year for the 21-year-old who not only had a tremendous year in college but also had an impressive performance for the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Playing in all five games for the United States, Donato scored five goals – tied for the lead in the tournament with Minnesota Wild prospect Kiril Kaprizov and former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk, and six points to lead the United States.
Donato completed his collegiate career with 98 goals and 227 points in only 115 games with the Crimson. It’s earned him the distinction as the Bruins top prospect and he now has a chance to make an impact for the Bruins down the stretch similarly to the way Charlie McAvoy contributed for Boston last season against the Senators.
Donato Could Make an Impact Immediately
As the Bruins mentioned in their official news release, Donato will be immediately eligible to play for the Bruins against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday at TD Garden.
While the Bruins could be getting both Zdeno Chara and Jake DeBrusk back from injury, Donato reinforcing the team with McAvoy remaining out and the status of Patrice Bergeron up in the air could be exactly what the Bruins need down the stretch. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be plugged right into the lineup just one day after signing.
The Bruins have had a ton of success this season despite countless injuries serving as obstacles along the way. It’s part of the reason why Donato signing didn’t seem like a good idea early in the season. After all, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. That said, the Bruins made a string of moves at the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline that saw them acquire Rick Nash, veteran defender Nick Holden, former Blackhawks forward Tommy Wingels while also signing Brian Gionta.
Despite so many new faces in the lineup, the Bruins have continued to win – even with some slumping play as of late taking its toll. It’s for that reason why the addition of Donato doesn’t seem like a bad thing now given the fact that this team has proven it can win regardless of who is in the lineup each and every night.
If Donato does play for the Bruins, even in one game down the stretch, he’ll accomplish something that no other player in history has done. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward can make history by becoming the first player to play hockey to play at the collegiate level, the Olympic level and the NHL level all in the same season.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.