Bruins

Injuries opening up path for Donato to show what he can do

Injuries opening up path for Donato to show what he can do

In an ideal world the Bruins could have signed highly regarded prospect Ryan Donato to a two-year entry level contract, watched him develop his game deliberately at the AHL level and received two full years of service before the forward hit restricted free agency. 

But that doesn’t take into account the current injury situation for the Boston Bruins with a few weeks to go in the regular season, and it didn’t factor in Donato’s leverage as an NCAA player that could have chosen free agency, or going back to Harvard for his senior year, if he didn’t get what he was looking for in negotiations with the Black and Gold. Clearly it never got to anything approaching a hard ball level between the Bruins and a young player with plenty of B’s background in Donato, and now he’ll get to suit up for Boston and most likely make his NHL debut on Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

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Once he plays for the Bruins that will burn the first year on his two-year entry level contract, and it will also prohibit him from heading to Providence and playing for the P-Bruins through the rest of the hockey season. It’s the exact same situation Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson found himself in last spring when it was pretty clear after one game in Boston that he wasn’t quite ready for the NHL level. 

After Donato makes his debut it will be up to him and how NHL-ready he looks when he jumps into the Boston lineup, but it’s pretty clear they need some more dynamic top-6 bodies with Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Jake DeBrusk all out of the lineup, and Anders Bjork done for the season as well as what could have been a good reserve option at the AHL level. 

None of those players are expected to return in the next couple of games or even in the next week most likely, so there may be an opening for Donato to dazzle if he's prepared to seize the opportunity. 

“Once [Harvard’s season] was over with I had an opportunity to speak with his family advisor and with the family and with Ryan himself. We just worked through what looked like the opportunity he was looking for and we were happy to provide that,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “We have some injuries and we’re at the point in the season where every game has a lot on the line. I think his being able to go over and have success at the Olympics this year really started to jumpstart his thought process that he was ready for the next challenge.

“I think Ryan might have looked at [the injuries on the NHL roster] as an even bigger opportunity for him to go in and possibly play as early as [Monday night]. From our standpoint, we had always been committed to providing the opportunity to Ryan if and when he decided to leave school. I think the two things just kind of lined up accordingly. We definitely are cognizant that the injuries are there, and they’ve mounted a little bit here coming down the stretch. It’s a testament to the group of players that we have [that led to the Tampa] win after losing [David] Backes early in the game and guys really playing well.”

Clearly Donato was ready for the next level after dominating college hockey to the tune of 26 goals in 29 games for the Crimson this season, and serving as one of Team USA’s best players in last month’s Olympic hockey tournament. Donato has a high hockey IQ that usually comes along with being the son of an NHL player, has a nose for the net for a young player that isn’t the biggest or strongest guy on the ice and has become a dangerous sniper with his NHL-level shot and release. The question now is whether all of those skills are “plug and play” at the NHL level, or if he’s more in the mold of similar NCAA players like Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen that needed some development time at the minor league level. 

“He’s a kid that’s got a confidence about himself, a talent level, and he’s got some details that he’s going to have to work on. All young players do, more importantly the inexperience part of it, but he’s a kid that has hard skill,” said Sweeney. “So we’re looking forward to having him join our team, get immersed, and get a taste, and then it’s up to him. He’ll take it with however far he can run with it, but he is welcomed to the opportunity.

“We’re not going to put any pressure on him to say ‘You have to produce.’ It’s like every player; he’s going to be another player that the coach will have an opportunity to play in situations, and the player himself will dictate how much time and circumstances they play in. We feel that, if we get healthy, we’re going to have a deep group. He’s going to add to that group. Then it’s up to him.”

It would be unfair to expect Donato to have an impact on this Bruins team like Craig Janney did coming out of college thirty years ago, but that’s what many are going to equate it to based on the circumstances. Instead it should be looked at as another talented young player that the Bruins are going to add to their embarrassment of young hockey talent riches, and a player that could possibly help them get through a current tough stretch of injuries and attrition. If Donato does anything more than that then it’s another great story in a Boston Bruins season that’s been chock full of them from beginning to end.

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Bruce Cassidy, ex-Bruins teammates stunned by news of Colby Cave's coma

Bruce Cassidy, ex-Bruins teammates stunned by news of Colby Cave's coma

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy first got to know Colby Cave when he was the Providence Bruins coach and Cave arrived in the AHL as a 20-year-old from Saskatchewan in 2015.

So, the news that Cave, now with the Edmonton Oilers, is in a medically induced coma and in critical condition at a Toronto hospital after he had a brain bleed Tuesday and subsequent surgery was particularly jarring to Cassidy and Cave's former B's teammates.

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Cassidy told Joe McDonald of The Athletic that he and Cave's former teammates and coaches are working on get-well video messages for Cave, who had surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.

Cassidy said his wife, Julie, had spoken to Cave's wife, Emily.

“It’s very difficult for her because she can’t get in the room and give him a hug, or anything,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy said that despite the coma, he's hopeful that Cave can perhaps hear the messages. “Anything we can do. Every little bit helps and if we can chip in with some encouraging words then that’s what we’re going to do.”

Jay Leach, Cave's coach in Providence after Cassidy replaced Claude Julien in Boston, told the Athletic, “There’s no one better than Colby Cave with regards to being a person and the way he treats other people."

Cave played 23 games for Boston from 2017-19 and was put on the Bruins top line with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand to fill in for Patrice Bergeron when Bergeron was injured in the 2018-19 season. When Cave was sent back to Providence, he didn't clear waivers and was claimed by the Oilers in January 2019.

Another former Bruin, Noel Acciari of the Florida Panthers, who played with Cave in Boston and Providence,  echoed Cassidy and Leach's sentiments.

"He’s who you want on your team," Acciari said. "It’s a terrible thing what has happened to him, but he’s a fighter and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his loved ones.”

Torey Krug has funny details about what he misses from Bruins' locker room

Torey Krug has funny details about what he misses from Bruins' locker room

Torey Krug is comfortably living in his home state of Michigan with his in-laws, his wife, his daughter and his dog right now amidst the coronavirus outbreak and doing his best to stay in shape while running outdoors and working out indoors.

There was no denying, though, that the Bruins defenseman is still adjusting to the abrupt pause button applied to the NHL regular season with about a month left to play ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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“As hockey players along with most people, you’re going to feel a little lost in this situation,” admitted Krug. “But first and foremost, we need to park that and put it aside and realize that there is something bigger [going on] here. If we do have the opportunity to get back playing, then let’s be safe and let’s be smart. Whether it’s the health and safety of the players of jumping right back into hockey from a competitive standpoint or continuing to practice the social distancing cues that we’ve been given, nobody wants to jump back into a situation where we put a bunch of people in one area and it takes off again.

“I hope everyone is staying safe. In some way, shape or form I think we are all connected by the coronavirus. Whether it’s somebody you know or a family member, we’re all in this together. It’s a tough situation, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. As long as we keep doing what we’re doing, hopefully we’ll see each other sooner rather than later.”

Krug has fully recovered from the upper body injury he suffered right before the season stopped and has settled into a routine every day to keep a sense of normalcy, so those are good things amidst a troubling time. But he also voiced just how much he’s missing all his Bruins teammates while confined to the current limbo everybody is living through until the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.

The picture he painted inside the B’s dressing room was a humorous one, but it also underscored just how much everybody across the country is missing out on their normal day-to-day activities while rightly practicing self-quarantining and social distancing. Krug was quick to say he doesn’t miss getting chirped daily by Brad Marchand, but he does miss many, many other things around the Bruins dressing room after the B’s players scattered.

“It’s just the normal silly stuff that we go back and forth. I’m sure I’ll get chirped for how I look on this video. Anytime something funny comes up we put it in the chat just to keep that bond going,” said Krug, of the group texting that he and his teammates are engaged in right now while spread out from each other. “We do miss the guys and that’s part of the back and forth every day. I just miss the simple conversations.

[I miss] seeing what Pasta is wearing when we walks through the [dressing room] door. [I miss] wondering what kind of mood Chris Wagner is going to be in. Or seeing Chucky [McAvoy] and his big smile walking through the door every day. Trying to make sense of what comes out of Jake DeBrusk’s mouth. There are just so many things that you miss on a daily basis [with the season on pause].

Hopefully for Krug and the rest of the Bruins, the world will soon be in a place where those day-to-day conversations can once again take place in person rather than over video conference technology as it’s been for the last month.