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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.
The Lightning have found a replacement for former AHL Syracuse assistant coach Trent Cull.
Cull, who left Benoit Groulx’s staff to take the head gig with Vancouver’s affiliate in Utica, has been replaced by longtime NHL defenseman Ken Klee, the club announced on Tuesday.
“We are very excited to add Ken to our coaching staff,” Tampa Bay assistant GM Julien BriseBois said in a statement. “His vast experience as a long-time National Hockey League defenseman, his recent experience as a head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team and his strong leadership skills will make him an important contributor to the success of our Syracuse Crunch team.”
Klee, 46, appeared in over 900 big league contests with the Capitals, Maple Leafs, Devils, Avalanche, Thrashers, Ducks and Coyotes. He last played during the 2008-09 campaign, and later shifted over to the coaching side of things with the U.S. women’s team.
Klee led the Americans to back-to-back World Championships in 2015 and 2016. And it’s probably worth noting he’s former Washington teammates with Jeff Halpern, who last year served as Groulx’s assistant in Syracuse.
The Red Wings made a forward depth signing on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with AHL scorer Martin Frk.
Per the Free Press, it’s a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000, and it comes after Frk was close to a point-a-game player en route to Grand Rapids’ Calder Cup championship in June.
Frk, 23, was originally taken 49th overall by Detroit in 2012. He’s been a consistently good scorer at the American League level — back-to-back 27 goal campaigns as proof — but hasn’t found similar success in the NHL.
Carolina claimed him off waivers last season, and played him in a pair of games before waiving him again. Detroit quickly scooped Frk up and shipped him right back to the Griffins.
At this year’s draft, Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill — who coached Frk in the minors — said the Czech sniper may need to make it in the big leagues as a power play specialist.
“Marty Frk has done a great job of scoring goals,” Blashill said, per the Free Press. “He is a really good shooter. He plays his best hockey when he is confident. Can he continue into the NHL? It just depends.
“For him to be a good NHL player, he is going to have to be a great power-play guy. Because his shot is his weapon. When he is hitting the net, he is a good weapon on the power play.”
Detroit and forward Tomas Tatar are scheduled to go to arbitration on Thursday, and now it’s known what offers the two sides are bringing to the table.
Per Sportsnet and MLive, Tatar is asking for $5.3 million next season, while the Red Wings are offering $4.1 million. Should the case go to arbitration, Tatar will receive a one-year pact.
Tatar’s reported ask shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Earlier this month, reports suggested he was looking for at least $5 million annually on a longer-term deal, this after wrapping a three-year pact that paid $2.75M per.
It’s easy to see why Tatar is looking to cash in. The 26-year-old netted 29, 21 and 25 goals in each of his last three campaigns, for a grand total of 75 — more than Phil Kessel, Patrick Marleau and Matt Duchene have scored over the same timeframe.
If he and the Red Wings can’t reach a long-term deal prior to Thursday, it could be acrimonious. Tatar has suggested going to arbitration and settling on a one-year deal could mean the end of his time in Detroit.
“Detroit offered me a contract, and even with a few options — for a year, or four or five. We’re still talking about the length, and of course, the financial amount of the contract,” Tatar told CSA.sk earlier this month, per the Detroit News. “However, we aren’t going anywhere, and there’s been time enough.”
“Arbitration is the last option, I have to sign off, it’s just a mandatory contract. Unless I agree with Detroit, I’ll go to the court (salary arbitration), where they’ll give me a year’s contract. That would probably be my last season in Detroit. We’ll see in a few days or weeks before it all comes together.”
Update: The Bruins confirmed that they signed Austin Czarnik, and also backed up those reported terms.
Austin Czarnik, the former Miami (Ohio) University standout that joined the Bruins three seasons ago, has inked a one-year deal to remain in Boston, per CapFriendly.
Czarnik, 24, was an undrafted free agent that signed with the B’s in 2015. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound playmaker was in high demand following his senior season with the RedHawks — he finished as the school’s second all-time leader in assists, and captained the club in each of his last two campaigns.
Since going pro, Czarnik has proven to be a consistent scorer at the AHL level, working on virtually a point-per-game pace. With Boston, the diminutive center made his NHL debut last season and appeared in 49 games, scoring five goals and 13 points.
CapFriendly reports this new deal is of the two-way variety, and will carry a $675,000 cap hit at the big league level.