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Harvard product Donato won’t pull a Vesey on Bruins

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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.

Goalies of the future? Bruins ink McIntyre, Subban to two-way deals

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The Boston Bruins locked up two possible goalies of the future – or at least backup goalies of the future – in handing two-way, two-year contracts to Zane McIntyre (pictured) and Malcolm Subban.

The Bruins note that, when at the NHL level, the deals are both worth $650K.

At the moment, Anton Khudobin stands as the No. 2 behind Tuukka Rask. Even so, Khudobin is 31 while Rask is 30, so McIntyre and Subban can be seen as up-and-comers.

Considering some of the struggles Khudobin has experienced in more recent times, it’s also easy to imagine one (or both) getting some reps even in 2017-18.

Long-term, it will be interesting to see which goalie gets the edge in the eyes of the B’s organization.

Subban carries obvious name recognition, not to mention the pedigree that comes with being a first-rounder (24th overall in 2012). His numbers have been solid at the AHL level, while he’s been blistered during his two NHL appearances.

McIntyre’s limited NHL reps haven’t gone any better, yet he’s been putting up eye-popping numbers with the Providence Bruins. He was especially strong in the AHL regular season, managing a 21-6-1 record and a .930 save percentage.

That gives the impression that McIntyre has the leg up right now, but that can change. Really, it could change multiple times over the next couple of years, for all we know with goalies.

Bruins must sort out Pastrnak deal before deciding on Stafford

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Whatever interest the Boston Bruins might have in Drew Stafford, the reality is that they have bigger fish to fry.

The Boston Herald reports that Bruins GM Don Sweeney “remains in contact” with Stafford, but they can’t go forward with a veteran addition until after they know where bigger-ticket items pan out.

To be more precise, Sweeney must figure out how much it will cost to retain RFAs Ryan Spooner and (especially) David Pastrnak. Spooner ranked among the players who filed for salary arbitration, while Pastrnak is the sort of scorer who has made an impact essentially since day one with the Bruins, peaking with a 36-goal, 70-point output in 2016-17.

The Bruins are likely mulling over a “bridge” deal or a longer commitment to Pastrnak, yet either way, it’s a key situation for the franchise’s future.

MORE: No timetable for a Pastrnak deal

As WEEI.com noted back in late June, Stafford made it clear that it’s his “100 percent” preference to return to the Bruins. That said, he also seemed to realize that he might not be the team’s highest priority, even after being a helpful addition at the trade deadline.

“On the business side of things, with the way they work out, I know it’s not always in your control,” Stafford said. “But if there is an offer that they’re willing to deal, they can talk to my agent, because I’d love to be back.”

After struggling to just 13 points in 40 games with Winnipeg, Stafford found a new burst in Boston, generating four goals and eight points in 18 games. The veteran winger also managed two goals during Boston’s six-game series versus Ottawa.

Those aren’t the sort of numbers that will kick down doors for the 31-year-old, but they might just help him land another NHL job, perhaps in his ideal spot.

Unfortunately for Stafford, his options may otherwise be quite limited.

Bruins prospect Frederic seems to be exceeding their original expectations

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Projecting draft picks is always an imperfect game, even for the people that are highly paid to do just that.

But when the Boston Bruins used a first-round pick in 2016 on Trent Frederic, a player that former director of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky said, “is not going to be a top-two line guy, we know that,” it really lowered any expectation anybody had for the pick. Of course first-round picks turn out to be useful bottom-six players all the time, but it’s usually because they never reached the top-line expectations teams had for them. It’s not often you hear a team come right and say about their top-pick that they want him to be a third-or fourth-liner.

One year later, after a season that saw him average more than a point-per-game and finish second in goals and points for the University of Wisconsin, Frederic seems to be exceeding those original expectations the Bruins had for him.

Jamie Langenbrunner, the Bruins’ director of player development, told Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald this week that there has been a re-thinking within the organization of Frederic’s potential.

“There is in my mind so far,” said Langenbrunner, via the Herald. “He plays top line at Wisconsin. Obviously, time will tell what he’ll be in pro hockey but there’s more skill to his game than people thought coming out of the draft.”

Frederic was Boston’s second first-round pick in 2016, going 29th overall. The Bruins acquired that pick from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for goaltender Martin Jones.

The 2016 draft is already looking like a promising one for Boston given the early promise shown by their top pick that year, defenseman Charlie McAvoy.

Thanks to trades involving Jones, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton the Bruins had five first-round picks between 2015 and 2016 which they used to select McAvoy, Frederic, Jakub Zboril, Jake Debrusk, and Zachary Senyshyn. The 2015 second-round also produced Brandon Carlo and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, both of whom have already played in the NHL, with Carlo already looking like a mainstay on the Bruins’ defense.

Bruins re-sign Acciari — two years, $1.45 million

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Looks like Noel Acciari will be around Boston for the foreseeable future.

Acciari, who has spent most of his career shuttling between AHL Providence and the NHL, has signed a two-year, one-way deal worth $725,000, the B’s announced on Wednesday.

Acciari’s contract comes after he appeared in 29 games for the Bruins last year, scoring five points. He also appeared in four of the club’s opening-round playoff games against Ottawa, scoring once.

The former Providence standout, who went undrafted, caught on with Boston in ’15-16 and quickly worked his way into the mix at the NHL level.

There’s a pretty decent chance he’ll eclipse the 29 games played last year, especially if the club doesn’t return veteran forwards Dominic Moore and Drew Stafford, both of whom become unrestricted free agents on Saturday.