With no game on the schedule until Saturday night, the Boston Bruins have decided to send Ryan Donato to the AHL. It’s not clear how long this demotion will be for, but he’ll likely at least be in the lineup for the Providence Bruins when they take the ice on Friday night. Donato has faced early struggles at both ends of the rink, and may need a boost to his confidence and playing time that can only be found at the lower levels.
Donato, 22, had a whirlwind of a season last year, when he was a Hobey Baker finalist with Harvard after scoring 43 points in 29 games, tied for the goal scoring lead at the Olympics with five, and then exploded onto the NHL scene with three points in his first game. He’d record nine total in the 12 games he played for the Bruins down the stretch, but was held scoreless in the playoffs. This season hasn’t gone nearly as well for the young forward, as he’s been held to just a single goal in 11 games and is a -4 on the year. Those struggles have led to the demotion, but he’s by no means out of the Bruins long-term plans.
Originally selected 56th overall in 2014, the Bruins know that Donato is capable of providing offense at the NHL level. He just needs to find his game and not be limited to diminished ice time and linemates. In Providence he’ll likely be given huge responsibility and prime powerplay opportunities to get his confidence back, while also being able to focus on his play away from the puck. The move may come as a shock to some fans, but it likely will help Donato’s overall game down the road.