We’ve had a lot of time in between games and that means the Olympics briefly got a time to be center stage as the USA’s mens and womens teams did their thing. Ryan Donato, inarguably the one really good thing the USA had on their roster, we’ve been talking into the dirt. He’s great, he plays like he’s five years his senior, he’s opportunistic, he’s a good skater...just read all the things we’ve written about him. I’ll even link them here for you.
And while there’s plenty of positives to seeing the guy around, especially given his value as a winger...
There’s plenty getting in the way of him being a Bruin. Until at least mid-March, or early April.
At the least.
See, being one of the best players in college hockey in the country on one of the better teams in the ECAC hockey conference (which is, fittingly of a conference littered with ivy league schools, a conference of have and have not’s), means he will almost certainly be making the ECAC playoffs with the Harvard Crimson. And due to the ECAC tournament format, Harvard in 3rd, with only two games against Yale and Brown left on their schedule, neither of which are much good in conference, will earn a 1st-round bye. Artificially extending the time between Donato and a signing.
And then, if Harvard does well, they might find themselves in the NCAA Regional finals for the National championship, which just keeps that date where he could be going to wear Black and Gold professionally kicked down the road.
Furthermore, if the last few signings from the NCAA are any indication (JFK, anyone?) the contract he signs may be a one way ticket going straight to Providence to help the P-Bruins go on a Calder Cup run and hopefully to acclimate him to the pro-level. If he’s going to end up on the B’s at any capacity, someone will have to be injured, or a hole in the roster has to have opened up.
And really, this is probably the best thing for the kid. Playoffs are a crazy thing regardless of where you play them, and during the middle of March many teams put their NHL Prospects through no less than three different levels of the playoffs, going from Junior to college to the AHL and even to the NHL if the team is in desperate need. If you want to have a strong prospect pool that’s ready to contribute in some of the highest stakes games, naturally it would follow that they’d want their prospects playing as many of those high stakes games as they can, right? So if you want Donato to succeed, you definitely want him to go as far as he can with Harvard, sign him when Boston’s jockeying for 1st in division down the stretch, and god forbid should Boston need a player in replacement of one of their young guns that cannot perform these duties for whatever reason, you can slot him in.
It’s good to be excited about this kid, he’s shown over the past two weeks that through his own special cocktial of sheer opportunism and speed he can practically drag a team to positive results. His finish is next to unstoppable as we’ve seen at both the college and now Olympic level...But we can’t rush the kid, mostly because we can’t. It’s up to how Harvard does over the next month or so that determines that.
So if you’re getting antsy for some new blood and need someone to blame, Blame Harvard for being greedy.