Bruins Top 25 Under 25
#13: Ryan Donato- C
Where did he come from? 2014 Draft - 2nd round, 56th overall
Has he played in the NHL? No
Ryan Donato is a player that has somehow largely escaped the spotlight in Boston, despite his high draft pedigree (2nd rd) and his NHL bloodline. By most accounts, that is about to change and quickly after a very strong sophomore season at Harvard University. Donato, the son of longtime Bruin Ted Donato, increased his scoring from 21 pts (13G, 8A) to 40 pts (21G, 19A) in 2017 en route to a NCAA Final Four loss to Minn. Duluth.
Instead of resting on his laurels, the young collegiate came to Bruins Development camp in July ready to prove he belonged. He was arguably the best, and most consistent player on the ice throughout development camp according to most in attendance, which is no small feat considering the level of prospect talent in the Bruins pipeline.
Local kid Donato with a slick wraparound five hole goal in scrimmage. Showing well so far. #BruinsDEVCamp— Colin Beswick (@CBeswick) July 8, 2017
As for his attributes, Donato has a high motor and active stick to complement his high end shot. His quick and accurate release is increasingly rare for NHL centermen in today’s league and even earned him a lofty comparison to Joe Sakic from Don Sweeney. It is these abilities coupled with strong offensive instincts and powerful skating that make him an exciting prospect to watch over the next year or two.
While other young, highly drafted forwards have taken most of the spotlight in recent years (Senyshyn, Frederic, JFK), Donato may actually be the most NHL ready of the group at this point in time. He has shown that rare commitment to a strong two way game as a young player and has a mental approach both on and off the ice that is rare for players his age.
Ryan Donato scores a beauty against BU. pic.twitter.com/wDPM0jT24G— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) February 14, 2017
What does the future look like for Donato?
While the young forward will be returning to Harvard for his junior year to play at least one more year under his father (and alongside freshman brother, Jack) in 2017-18, he has a future in the NHL. Depending on timing, Bruins fans could see him in Providence at the conclusion of the NCAA season in 2017-18 before competing for a roster spot on the big club the following year.
His primary competition for an NHL roster spot after next season will likely be Forsbaka Karlson, Danton Heinen and Trent Frederic. Obviously, the Bruins have no shortage of center depth, but unlike the Schallers, Spooners and Czarnik’s on the roster, Donato has both the high end skill AND drive to compete on every shift and in every facet of the game. For those reasons, many media members are high on his NHL prospects and most expect him to compete for a roster spot come the 18-19 season. While he won’t be competing for a roster spot alongside a half dozen or so other Bruins forward prospects come September, his future may be among the brightest of those taking the ice.