Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Why Ryan Donato is vital to the Bruins offense

Cameron Kerry
July 25, 2018 - 12:37 pm

How could a rookie who played 12 NHL games possibly be the key to an offense that was already a force at times last season?

The Bruins are currently devoid of an impact wing on the right side of the second line, a top-six role along playmakers Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci. Donato would the perfect scoring compliment to DeBrusk's scorching speed and Krejci's craftiness, but would also add a scoring punch to the bottom six. 

After completing his junior at Harvard, Donato began playing his games 6.7 miles away off of I-90 at the TD Garden. In 12 games with the Bruins, Donato scored five goals and dished out four assists. Four of his points came on the power play, where he proved to be a welcome addition. Donato's 20.8 shooting percentage could prove insurmountable to replicate, but the Scituate native has always had a cannon of a shot. He had 60 goals in 97 games at Harvard and had five in five contests while representing Team USA at the Olympics in Pyeonchang. Donato has the skating ability and wicked wrister to score from anywhere on the ice and could be a breakout star for the Bruins this season.

With a touch under $3 million in cap space and a full 23 man roster, the Bruins have little wiggle room in acquiring a top-six talent. According to Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic, the Bruins net value added from free agency amounted to -2.8 wins. Without Rick Nash and Riley Nash, the Bruins are left to fill important positions on the depth chart. While the Bruins do not suffer from a lack of internal replacements, Donato stands above the rest as the most potent offensive threat. Free agent signings Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom are both strong penalty killers, but do not drive possession or scoring and will likely occupy fourth line checking roles. Competition from fellow prospects, such as Anders Bjork, Jack Studnicka, and Jakub Forsbacka-Karlsson could present a challenge, but Donato's experience and goal-scoring prowess push him over the top. 

Donato posted a Corsi For rating of 54 percent and Corsi For relative of 0.9 percent, both of which indicate that he can fit in well in a fast-paced, puck possession driven system that Bruce Cassidy looks to implement. Despite the small sample size, Donato's domination at the NCAA level and potent offensive potential signal that he has the ability to be a dangerous offensive threat. For a Bruins team that struggled to score outside of the first line, Donato's presence will be embraced, as he has been a goal scorer at every level and could help supplement production in a mid-line role this coming season.