The Boston Bruins made a move this Thursday to help their youngest talented forward develop his game to an NHL level.
Harvard product Ryan Donato, who ended last season with a string of productive games, has been designated for assignment to the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence. After producing just 1 point in 11 games so far this season, its clear that the young forward needs to develop some size and be able to deal with physicality at the NHL level.
Donato was a fan favorite at the tail end of last season, finishing the year with 5 goals and 9 points in his last 12 appearances. Although he definitely looked overshadowed and undersized, he found ways to use his offensive skill set and hockey IQ to get pucks on net, something he hasn’t been able to do thus far this season. Perhaps a stint in the AHL (along with some time in the weight room) to develop Donato to a point where he can compete at a higher level, and accomplish much more offensively.
Defensively, as well, Donato has struggled mightily with the physicality of the game, and with David Backes set to return from a concussion in the near future, this was the right call by Bruins management. Of course, this will draw questions about whether or not the Bruins used him too early in his young career. Rather, the Bruins were very wise to do what they did: take advantage of his offensive flash late last season, and get the young forward some experience at the NHL level.
Now that he knows what he needs to work on in order to compete, Donato should be able to follow the examples of teammates Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, and Anders Bjork. Those three have all made significant strides adjusting to the physicality of the NHL as well as working on their game away from the puck, something Donato desperately needs to improve.
The problem for the Bruins now is securing another forward that can score consistently, something they were hoping for from Donato. He has the offensive skillset to do it, and hopefully this stint in Providence will help him regain that touch. As of now, the Bruins are hurting offensively minus their top line, a product of not securing a top scorer this offseason. This team is hanging on to relevance by a thread, while several teams in their division simply playing better hockey. With Patrice Bergeron and his line mates bearing the weight on their shoulders, they need a solution before the ship sinks.
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