As one of the only teams in the NHL yet to win in regulation or overtime, the Sharks are scrambling for line combinations that can score goals.
This is time for the difference makers on the team to stand up and make an impact, and 24-year-old Ryan Donato is impressing coach Bob Boughner and rising in the ranks within San Jose’s hierarchy.
Donato, after being bumped down to the third line during San Jose’s preseason camp, was put in the same line with Kevin Lebanc and team leader, Logan Couture, back on Jan. 18 in the Sharks’ loss to the Blues.
He’s remained there, skating for just over 15 minutes of game time with Couture and Lebanc in the Sharks’ loss to the Wild on Friday, according to Kevin Kurz of The Athletic.
“Ryan going up with that line, I think that he makes plays,” Boughner said. “He’s obviously a gifted offensive player, and I wanted to see the different dynamic of playing with (Couture).”The Athletic/Kevin Kurz
Donato is still hunting for his first even-strength point, per Kurz, with his lone goal coming on a power play.
But he’s getting opportunities. Those have been sorely lacking for the Sharks thus far. But they appear impressed with Donato. He’s been one of the only players to step up to the challenge in 2021, and even he needs to increase his efforts so the Sharks can notch a victory and get back on the playoff track.
(Photo credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)