Boston Bruins

Mar 25, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Donato (6) carries the puck during the third period against the Nashville Predators at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson,

Ryan Donato’s move from Boston to Minnesota has certainly paid off.

To the tune of a new two-year, $3.8 million deal signed on Tuesday, in fact.

Once considered a key piece of the Black and Gold’s future given his scoring talents, and on the NHL scene with a bang to the tune of five goals and nine points in his first 12 NHL games, Donato quickly appeared to fall out of frame for the Bruins in 2018-19. It was a painful fall, too, as Donato proved unable to stick as the right-side threat on a line with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci. And after a full summer of skating as a right wing (opposed to his natural left wing). Moved around the roster, it was clear that Donato was not “complete” enough to survive in Boston’s bottom-six, and his run ended with a demotion to Providence on Jan. 28.

Shipped off to Minnesota (along with a conditional pick) for center Charlie Coyle, it didn’t take long for Donato to regain his scoring touch upon his move back to the NHL, with four goals and 16 points in 22 games down the stretch for the Wild.

The biggest difference, according to Donato, was Wild coach Bruce Boudreau’s willingness to simply let Donato play, as confirmed by a three-minute uptick in Donato’s average time on ice compared to his 34-game run with the B’s in 2018-19.

“They just said, ‘Go and play,’ and that’s when I think I’m at my best when [coaches] have the confidence in me and they let me play,” Donato, who failed to seize a top-six spot in Boston like many projected he would last summer, said following his trade to the Wild late last season. “It’s been a while since the coaches have had a lot of confidence in me to play me in all situations.”

Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine the Bruins being upset with the deal they made to ship out the Scituate, Mass. native.

First of all, even a $1.8 million cap hit seems a little too expensive for the cap-strung Bruins — they still need to re-sign Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy and that currently seems impossible without a cap-clearing move elsewhere on the roster — right now and Donato’s pending restricted free agency would have only further complicated Sweeney’s summer-long headache.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins have absolutely zero complaints when it comes to Coyle.

The stabilizing presence that Boston’s third line needed for the Bruins to be considered anything even close to a legitimate Stanley Cup threat, the Weymouth, Mass. native saved his best for the postseason, where he tallied nine goals and 16 points in 24 games as the B’s spinal cord of a third line with Danton Heinen and Marcus Johansson on the wings. Coyle’s expected to play an even bigger role for the Bruins in 2019-20, too, be it as their third-line center or perhaps as a top-six winger to the right of either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci if Bruce Cassidy opts to go for a true load-up when it comes to his top six group.

Coyle, for what it’s worth, is entering the final year of his current contract, which comes with a modest $3.2 million cap hit.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for He has also been a member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.