Ryan Donato established himself as a scoring forward soon after he arrived with the Minnesota Wild. Unfortunately, he has either fallen out of the starting lineup and became a healthy scratch, or he has played fourth-line minutes.
Ryan Donato Deserves More Ice-Time
Ryan Donato grew up on the East Coast of the United States and played hockey there his entire life. Born in Massachusetts, the forward lived and breathed hockey. Donato’s father, Ted Donato, helped to impact his hockey career from a very young age. Ryan would eventually end up playing for his father Ted at Harvard before beginning his National Hockey League career with the Boston Bruins.
Ryan was drafted in the second round, 56th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Although Donato was drafted in 2014, he did not make his NHL debut until the 2017-18 season with the Boston Bruins. In this season Donato scored nine points in 12 games played. The following season, Donato began to play more minutes for Boston and ended his tenure with Boston scoring 25 points in 55 games played.
On February 20, 2019, Donato and a conditional pick was traded from Boston to Minnesota in exchange for fan-favourite Charlie Coyle. After his arrival in Minnesota, Donato would go on to score seven points in his first five games as a member of the Wild. Furthermore, one of these points was an overtime goal where Donato rifled a shot past St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen to give the Wild a 2-1 win. Despite his hot start with his new team, Donato could not figure out a way to stay in the starting squad.
Goals are Good
After struggling to find a consistent place within the Minnesota Wild squad for the 2019-20 season, Donato had to bounce back. Naturally, the way for a forward to bounce back is to score goals. A surprising statistic is that Donato actually ranks third on the Minnesota roster in goals per sixty minutes. Donato comes in at a 1.301 and has a higher goals per sixty minutes rank than players such as Eric Staal, Luke Kunin, and Mats Zuccarello. Also, Donato leads the team in goals per sixty minutes while at even strength.
Goals are not everything in the NHL. Yet still, the best way to establish your presence in the league is to score. Donato has done just that, yet he still is not favoured in the eyes of the coaching staff. Even without goals per sixty, Donato ranks fifth on the team in points per sixty minutes as well. Despite his best efforts, Donato still receives third and fourth line minutes.
Defensive and Physical Play
Donato is not the biggest physical presence in the world due to his size. However, he certainly knows how to use his body. Donato is listed as six feet tall and 192 pounds. This is nothing to scoff at. However, he is also in no way the most feared player on the ice in accordance with these measurements. Yet despite his average size, Donato ranked eighth on the team in hits while filling the third or fourth line role for Minnesota.
There is a lot more to a hockey game than being able to throw your weight around and make big hits. Donato is smart with how to use his body. He effectively is able to lean into opponents to embrace body checks without getting smashed into the boards. Also, he shields the puck well by using his body to keep opponents to the outside.
If there is one thing that Donato can do differently, it’s that he needs to be more of a defensive presence. There is no doubt that he is able to put points on the board. However, strictly scoring can not win hockey games. Donato ranked on the lower end of the spectrum in blocked shots. To fix this, he needs to work as hard defensively as he does offensively to ensure that the coaching staff notices him. Other than that, his points production and ability to use his body should provide him with more minutes. That’s assuming he stays on the Wild roster for the upcoming season.
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