When the Boston Bruins drafted Ryan Donato in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, they knew he had loads of upside but also a lot of work to do. Donato is committed to play at Harvard University starting in 2015, where his father Teddy happens to be the head coach. In the meantime there is much debate on where the Scituate, Ma. native will play during the 2014-15 season.
While he has a year of prep school eligibility, the Bruins would like to see him jump to the USHL and play against better competition. There is another option that would take Harvard out of the equation entirely and fast track him to the professional ranks, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rimouski Oceanic.
Going to the “Q” means forfeiting all NCAA eligibility, but it also means playing hockey at a higher, more competitive level and a pro style schedule. Rimouski also boasts a deep roster with NHL first-rounders Frederik Gauthier and Samuel Morin that with Donato in the mix could be a sleeper pick to win the league title.
More Massachusetts born players have taken the Quebec route in recent years, namely Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild and South Boston natives Cam Darcy and Cam Askew, making it a more viable option than it has been in the past. What was once a rare occurrence is now becoming commonplace, as more Bay State players are taking their talents to the “Q” than at any point in the state’s illustrious hockey history.
If Donato were committed to any other school Rimouski would be without question a more realistic option, but walking away from a Harvard education is something that just doesn’t happen. Look for Donato to play in the USHL for the Omaha Lancers next season before going to Harvard and playing for his father until eventually he becomes a second generation Bruin.
Wherever he plays, Donato’s offensive creativity will be on full display as he will make the Bruins look great for taking him in the second round. He has all the makings of being a draft day steal, and he could become the team’s first Massachusetts area born superstar in the franchise’s illustrious history.