Ryan Donato - C (but likely a winger of some kind for the forseeable future)
Donato is one of the most interesting prospects to come into the Bruins system in which he garnered most of his praise and interest in 2017-18 prior to his signing while being almost entirely out of it and taking a long, winding road to make it .
Playing 29 games with Harvard and being the Crimson’s head-and-shoulders best player certainly garnered interest from fans who could find themselves attending their games, but it was when Donato made his way to the PyeongChang Winter Games that he really made a name for himself, if not because of his individual performance (which was impressive, 6 points in 5 games), but because he was genuinely one of the only players on the US team people could A) note and B) could notice their clear talent.
And after all of that, Donato finally found his way into the Bruins roster in mid-march, where he often played as a winger, sometimes in relief of one of the cavalcade of injured players Boston would have halfway through a season, and sometimes as a middle six center/winger combo. And all things considered, he hit the NHL with ease.
Donato certainly brought a level of shooting quality and skill to the middle six that hadn’t been consistent, and definitely got fans excited in the youth movement all over again.
If there’s any criticism that one could pull out of Donato’s game, it’s that he’s very good. Very, very good. But..only 12 games played. So while we have a very promising prospect, we can only really guess what he’d be like in a full season. Also, when it was time for the playoffs, he definitely looked like a rookie who’d only recently made it to the league and was tossed in front of competition that was very ready for him.
Thankfully, now that he’s experienced that, we can assume he’ll be ready for that level of competition next season.
Aggregate Grade: B-
Donato is exciting. Very exciting, in fact. Few talents in the B’s system could boast the kind of year he had. But sample size where it counted and the fact he was added so late ultimately means that, unless he exploded in goals from game one and caught up with other rookies by game 9, he was likely to get no higher than this if only because he ran out of time to do so.
Which is good for year one! Now, he has a whole 82 games to show us what he’s made of in 2018-19!
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