Ryan Donato, taken 56th overall by Boston at the ’14 draft, should be excited for his upcoming junior campaign at Harvard. He’s coming off a 21-goal, 40-point effort as a sophomore and recently showed well at the Bruins’ summer development camp.
What’s more, Donato will have the dangling carrot of potential free agency once the year is done. Should he go back to play for the Crimson the following year and complete his senior season, he could then pick and choose his NHL team — not unlike what another ex-Harvard standout, Jimmy Vesey, did to land with the Rangers.
Just one catch — Donato has zero interest in that.
“I understand [the Vesey option], but I don’t think it’s applicable to me in my situation,” Donato said, per CSNNE. “Growing up in Boston I’ve always been a Bruins fan, and I’ve been very happy and fortunate to a part of this [organization] and hopefully I can be for a while.
“Obviously, I had loyalty even before given that I was a fan, but you really feel like you do owe the organization something after they’ve drafted you.”
Donato is the son of longtime NHLer Ted Donato, a Boston native who also went to Harvard — and later coached there, including Ryan’s freshman season in ’15-16. Ted also played over 500 of his 796 career NHL contests for the Bruins, so there are some serious family ties at play.
Donato’s future in Boston feels like a slam dunk. But that said, the B’s aren’t immune to college players toying with the idea of free agency. This summer, GM Don Sweeney had to put in serious work to sign Anders Bjork, the Notre Dame standout that was contemplating a return to South Bend for his senior campaign.