The Seattle Kraken are getting their money worth when it comes to Ryan Donato. The former San Jose Shark, who signed a one-year, $750,000 contract this offseason, has played high above his pay grade and may have one of the best value contracts in the leagues. Although he is a free agent at the end of the season and may be able to fetch a return at the trade deadline, the Kraken would be wise to keep him on the roster and re-sign him at the season’s end.
Donato’s Power Play Production
Throughout his career, Donato has been a power-play option regardless of the team he plays for. His best season was in 2018-19 with the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild, where he had eight points in 116 minutes of power-play time. Although he does not have any points so far on the power play this season, he has produced scoring chances through the first 16 games. If he continues playing at his level, the points should start to come as he is playing primarily against the opposition’s second penalty kill units.
Versus the Washington Capitals, Donato played on the second power-play unit with Jaden Schwartz, Morgan Geekie, Vince Dunn and Jared McCann. After the first unit was unable to generate any offense, the second unit needed only 28 seconds of ice-time to generate three shots on goal and the team’s first goals of the game.
Although Donato did not score, he was in the correct position in front of the net, causing problems for the defender and goaltender. Before the goal, he tied up the defender, which allowed Schwartz to steal the puck down low and get a shot off. Although he is not the biggest player on the team at 6-foot and 183 pounds, he understands his role and does it well. As mentioned, he may not be getting points on the power play, but he has played a factor in the three the Kraken have scored while he is on the ice.
Donato Scoring Five on Five
Despite only averaging around 10 minutes at five on five per game, Donato currently finds himself in a three-way tie for third on the team in five on five points. His six points are tied with McCann and Yanni Gourde and are just three behind the team leader in points, Schwartz. The reason is simple; he gets the puck on the net every opportunity he can.
Related: Meet the Kraken: Forward Ryan Donato
Donato, who has only played 16 of the 18 games so far this season, ranks fourth in shots on goal at five on five with 24 and sixth in shot attempts with 44. He does not overthink the play and forces the goalie to make a safe whenever possible. So far, there have only been three games he has not registered a five on five shot on goal, which shows he is very constant on a game-to-game basis at getting shots on goal. Yes, he does have games where he registered three of four shots, but regardless of opponent or time on ice, he has shown he can test the goaltender on a nightly basis.
Lastly, when Donato collects points this season, they are all either goals or primary assists. This season, he has two goals, four primary assists, and zero secondary assists, which means he is generating scoring chances that lead directly to goals. He has a point on 75% of the goals scored while he is on the ice and is in the top five for individual scoring chances for and high-danger scoring chances for amongst all Kraken players despite playing two fewer games than most of the team leaders. He knows how to produce five and five and needs to be utilized in an expanded role in the future.
A Strong First Quarter of the Season
Through the first quarter of the season, Donato may be the Kraken’s unsung hero. He has stepped up when needed, been decent defensively and even scored the first goal in Kraken history. Although profiling as a bottom-six forward, he has shown consistency throughout the season and will garner some interest from around the league come the trade deadline. Despite that, this is one player the Kraken needs to consider keeping as his chemistry with players like Brandon Tanev and McCann could provide some value in the future.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.