Ryan Donato has had a great start to his NHL career.
The Harvard kid has played 12 games since signing his contract, and has recorded 5 goals and 4 assists.
He's been dangerous on the power play and has shown that he has a great shot.
There still might not be room for him in the lineup come Thursday.
If the Bruins are fully healthy, it's hard to see where Donato would slot in. He's done well playing with David Krejci, but that wing is Rick Nash's when he's back.
He's not taking a spot on the top line. That leaves two places: the third line and the fourth line.
Donato's game isn't suited for fourth-line hockey. Plus, that trio has played well recently, so it wouldn't make a ton of sense to split them up.
That leaves the third line. If the Bruins are fully healthy, the third line probably features Danton Heinen at left wing, Riley Nash at center and David Backes at right wing.
This all really boils down to one thing: are you willing to swap Donato in for Heinen?
Heinen has had his rough patches, but he's still had a great season.
The kid has put up 16G-31A-47PTS totals and has shown chemistry with Nash and Backes.
Are you willing to risk that chemistry in order to force Donato into the lineup?
There's another option, presented to me by @DreamOfJanney on Twitter: bump Riley Nash to 4C, put Backes at 3C and let Donato play 3RW.
While this isn't a bad idea, it would risk rendering both your 3rd and 4th lines less effective just to fit Donato in the lineup.
To me, the best solution would be to platoon Donato and Heinen. If Heinen struggles in Game 1, let Donato try 3LW in Game 2. Ride the hot hand.
That lineup would look like this:
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Rick Nash
Danton Heinen/Ryan Donato - Riley Nash - David Backes
Tim Schaller - Noel Acciari - Tommy Wingels/Sean Kuraly
Thoughts? Is Donato the odd-man out, or should someone else take a seat?