Boston Bruins

Ryan Donato is officially a Bruin, and there’s a chance he almost never loses the spoked ‘B’. The 21-year-old looked like a legit NHL player in his debut on Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and while growing pains are inevitable, the talented young forward impressed with his obvious skill.

His first career NHL goal showed off the qualities that could translate to the highest level right away and make an immediate impact on the B’s as they head toward the playoffs. He had the patience to wait for the trailer, Torey Krug, and when he took the pass back he fired a rocket of a shot into the back of the net.

Head coach Bruce Cassidy liked what he saw from Donato on offense, and so far didn’t see many egregious errors that he could use as learning tools.

“You know, he’s on the puck, as advertised, in terms of his compete. Wanted to shoot the puck,” said Cassidy. “I think, early, he was trying to make some plays and then realized, just play to your strength. Did a real good job. I didn’t notice anything away from the puck. I’m sure there’s a few teaching moments once you go back over the game tape and go from there. But, like I said, I liked him a lot, and I’m sure Krech [David Krejci] did, as well. They seemed to have some good chemistry.”

Ryan Donato of the Boston Bruins skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the TD Garden on March 19, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Cassidy also compared Donato to another dynamic young player for the Bruins who stepped in and played well right from the start.

“The guys – you know, we saw a little bit – like, listen, this is one game, but some of the guys that come in – you saw that with [Charlie] McAvoy, just played his game,” said Cassidy. “It would be great if he has similar success.”

Linemate David Krejci, who found out just hours before the game that Rick Nash couldn’t play and that Donato was being moved up to his line, was also impressed with the rookie despite not knowing a ton about him.

“He was battling along the walls, he was making some good plays,” said Krejci. “Like I said, it was a good game for him. For a first NHL game, you can’t really ask for anything better than he did. So it was a good game and hopefully he can keep it up. We will see with the injuries, but we thought we had some good stuff so hopefully we can carry that to the next game.”

Ryan Donato of the Boston Bruins warms ups before his first NHL game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the TD Garden on March 19, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

If Donato keeps playing like he did on Monday, things will certainly get interesting on the Bruins roster once everyone gets healthy. There could be an “odd man out” situation between Donato, Jake DeBrusk, and Danton Heinen.

For a team brimming with intriguing young talent breaking through at the NHL level, it’s certainly a great problem for Cassidy and Don Sweeney to have.

— By Matt Dolloff,

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at