After not being given a qualifying offer this summer, making him an unrestricted free agent, Ryan Donato is heading back to Seattle anyway. The Kraken have signed Donato to a one-year, $1.2MM contract. General manager Ron Francis released a statement:
Ryan elevated his game last season and we’re happy to have him return to the Kraken. He completed a career year and will hopefully eclipse that in 2022-23.
While Donato’s qualifying offer would have been less than this, it would have opened up the possibility of arbitration which would have almost certainly resulted in a higher cap hit than $1.2MM. The 26-year-old forward reached new career-highs with 16 goals and 31 points in 74 games this season, after signing a one-year, $750K deal with the team in 2021.
It’s been a rollercoaster career for Donato since turning pro in 2018. He registered three points in his first game for the Boston Bruins and looked like he might be a key member of the team in the years to come. Before the end of his first full NHL season, he would be traded to the Minnesota Wild as part of the package for Charlie Coyle, and less than two years later would be sent to the San Jose Sharks for a third-round pick.
At the end of the 2020-21 season, he was left unqualified by the Sharks after scoring just six goals, leaving him without a clear path forward. With the Kraken, he has put his career back on track and now looks to take advantage of his second contract with the expansion franchise.
The Kraken, despite only entering the league a year ago, now have more than $80MM committed for 2022-23, leaving them with just over $2.2MM in cap space. Donato will try to continue carving out ice time in a forward group that has added Andre Burakovsky, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and potentially Shane Wright this summer, depending on what the team does with the latter.