Boston Bruins

Ryan Donato may officially be a professional hockey player, but he’s still a dedicated student at Harvard, too. The Bruins’ rookie winger has a chance to play in his second NHL game on Wednesday, but it would come after a missed practice – because he couldn’t skip class.

Head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed to reporters on Tuesday that Donato had a “class commitment” at Harvard and had to miss the Bruins’ practice that day. But he also said Donato would join the team in St. Louis as they play the Blues on Wednesday night.

The injury bug has severely bit the Bruins in recent weeks, with David Backes (leg laceration) and Rick Nash (upper body) becoming the latest casualties. Nash was a late scratch on Monday against the Blue Jackets, while Backes had to leave last Saturday’s game against the Lightning with the gash on his right leg. Neither of them skated on Tuesday, but Backes did travel with the team.

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

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

Combined with injuries to Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk, the Bruins’ beleaguered forward group almost needed Donato to sign his entry-level contract. And after the rookie’s impressive debut, he doesn’t just look like he can fill in. He looks like he could be a legitimate threat on the Bruins’ roster this season, particularly on offense.

Though Donato clearly remains committed to completing his Ivy League education, he appears ready to tackle both Harvard and hockey over the next few months. He told reporters after Monday’s skate that he plans to complete the credits he needs to finish his junior year. The Bruins presumably knew full well how it would work with Donato prior to signing him.

Donato’s dedication to Harvard apparently isn’t a big deal to the team. And if the kid keeps playing like he did on Monday as a 21-year-old rookie, why would it?

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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 matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.