When Ryan Donato was left unprotected in the expansion draft, and then not given a qualifying offer by the San Jose Sharks, he became an obvious target. Not just for the Seattle Kraken, of course. Any team interested in a young centre with good possession numbers who can produce with limited ice time was interested. While Seattle didn’t select Donato in the Expansion Draft, they are interested enough to sign him now. But what are they getting?
F Ryan Donato #Kraken
1 year 1 way contract
$750,000 cap hit
Donato will be an RFA at the expiry of the contract https://t.co/iaPXBfrnae
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) September 12, 2021
Donato to Seattle Kraken
In signing Donato, the Kraken is getting a player on his fourth NHL team in four years. That can’t be good, right? It’s not the red flag you’d think, but Donato does have some flaws in his game. He is inexpensive, taking a big pay cut from his previous $1.9 million for 2020-21. He’s not adding speed to your lineup, and he’s probably not seeing the ice in the last five minutes to protect a one-goal lead. Likewise, despite his 14 goals in 62 games with the Minnesota Wild in 2019-20, his shot isn’t particularly dangerous. So after reading all that, why do we describe him as “an obvious target”? Let’s get to what he can do – and quite well, at that.
What Donato Brings
Ryan Donato was a second-round pick by the Boston Bruins for a reason. He is a very creative player, and the hockey sense he has lets him see opportunities. Donato is a deceptive skater, which lets him sneak past defenders very well. With similar linemates, they can take opponents by surprise on the attack, and he’s a very good passer. Unfortunately, like most of the Sharks last season, his linemates were a mixed bag. Dylan Gambrel and rookie John Leonard were his most frequent partners, despite his ability to play both centre and left-wing.
On the Sharks, Donato was behind Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl at centre, and Evander Kane on the wing. He wasn’t going to be getting a lot of opportunities past them. That being said, he still managed a respectable six goals and 20 points in 50 games last year. That’s with 12:30 of ice time and a below-average 5.8% shooting.
What it Means
He can easily improve on his 2020-21 numbers but will need the opportunity and linemates to do so. Put him with someone who can get to dangerous places and Donato can get them the puck. It’s going to come down to whether or not he earns the trust of his new coach, Dave Hakstol.
Main Photo: SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 31: Ryan Donato #16 of the San Jose Sharks is congratulated by teammates after he scored a goal against the Minnesota Wild in the second period at SAP Center on March 31, 2021 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)