WILMINGTON – Bruins second round pick Ryan Donato still hasn’t decided on his short term future for next season.
The 18-year-old is certain he won’t be attending Harvard University next season as he still hasn’t yet been accepted to the Ivy League school, so the choice is between his current Dexter School and the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Clearly Donato has proven everything he needs to do at the Dexter School after popping in 37 goals and 78 points in 30 games, and dominating competition that admittedly isn’t up to his current level.
Playing a season in the USHL would be the proper development track for the 6-foot, 174-pound Donato with the hope he’d be ready for Harvard hockey the following season, and put Donato father and son in the coach/player dynamic for the next few years.
Donato said he’ll talk it over with his family and the Bruins this week before making a final decision, but it’s difficult to see Bruins officials lobbying for anything short of a season in the USHL.
“I’m still deciding between Omaha and Dexter. I’ve talked to both coaches, and I think I’ll have a clearer image after I talk to the Bruins this week,” said Donato. “I’ll see what they want to. I’m kind of assuming they want me to [go to Omaha], but I think after I talk to my family and [the Bruins] we’ll have a clear picture. I’m ready to do whatever they want me to do, and whatever is going to help my game, and help my chances of getting into college. That’s one of the factors.
“Being able to put on the Bruins jersey today with a couple of my buddies [in Matt Grzelcyk, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Billy Sweezey] is something I can’t express how gratifying and happy it is. Getting drafted by the Bruins didn’t feel real until I was skating out with the guys today. It felt cool.”
Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney is in a unique position having played with Dontato’s dad during his Black and Gold days, and having known the younger Donato since he was a newborn.
“We’ll actually talk to Ryan and his family, and his advisor. The player obviously controls that. Does the organization obviously have an opinion? Yeah, and we are going to share that with him as to what we think is best for his overall development, both as a hockey player and personally,” said Sweeney. “Hopefully we’ll make what we think is a collective decision. As I said, the family has the power to say ‘yeah’ or ‘nay’, but I think you should be in lock step with each other.
“[We want] to see what’s to come down the road and what’s best for him. We’re going to support whatever the decision is, but I think we certainly will be out in front of it as to what we think is best with Ryan.”
Reading between the lines: put the house on Donato playing in the USHL for one season, and then matriculating with the "smaht" kids for the next few years after that.
Donato certainly fit in with the other 22 B’s prospects on the first day of development camp, and showed off the offensive instincts and scoring touch around the net when he had the puck on his stick. Now it’s just a matter of stepping things up the levels of hockey over the next years where he’s leading the pack of B’s prospects rather than working just to keep up with it.
Among the plans for other B’s prospects, Linus Arnesson is expected to return to the Swedish Elite League after training camp despite signing a three-year entry level deal with the Bruins. The NHL deal with the IIHF states that any players that could be cut down to the AHL level instead finish out their European commitments, and the Swedish defenseman isn’t expected to make the defensemen-heavy Bruins out of camp.