Let’s dive in and look at Ryan Donato’s time with the Wild and make the case for him to be more present in Minnesota’s lineup.
During Paul Fenton’s re-tooling of the Minnesota Wild during the 2018-2019 season, we saw Mikael Granlund traded to Nashville Predators, Nino Niederreiter traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, and Charlie Coyle to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Ryan Donato and a 5th Round Pick.
At the time of the trade, Ryan Donato had been playing for Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence and had put up 7 goals and 5 assists in just 18 games. Post-trade, Donato made an instant impact on the Wild putting up 4 goals and 12 assists in just 20 games, not bad for a kid who a month earlier was playing in the AHL and was getting firm top 6 minutes on the Wild.
One thing Ryan Donato prides himself on is his shot, as seen in the goal he scored above. It has solid power and accuracy and gets the job done. Even though he looked like a lock as a top 6 forward for the Wild coming into the 19-20 season, Donato would find his ice time cut and even find himself out of the lineup, due in part to Paul Fenton’s signing of winger Mats Zuccarello.
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In most cases, when Ryan Donato appeared in the Wild’s lineup, he was able to capitalize on his chances, even if he wasn’t able to score by generating shots, and frequently took more than 10 shifts in a game, Donato was there and gave it his all.
In the eyes of a lot of fans, there’s going to be a few things that need to happen for Ryan Donato to take a more offensive role on the team. One of these things is going to be cutting Mats Zuccarello’s minutes, which will be difficult given his contract (5yrs, $6M AAV, and NMC), and send Victor Rask back into the press box.
Donato is only 23 years old, and in the eyes of many, is still a developing NHL player who is skilled and can play anywhere in the forward lineup. Unfortunately, those that hope the Wild re-sign Alex Galchenyuk may want to stop here because this is another spot in the lineup where Donato can be slid into as well.
All in all, Ryan Donato wasn’t exactly traded into an ideal situation but he made the most out of what he could, going forward, more ice time and consistency in the lineup will benefit his long term development.