A week before the 2018 trade deadline, the Boston Bruins acquired Charlie Coyle in an attempt to bolster their depth for a playoff run. The Bruins traded Ryan Donato and a conditional fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Charlie Coyle. 10 months later, both players have had a chance to settle in with their new teams.
Analyzing Charlie Coyle
Charlie Coyle was in his seventh year in the NHL, all with Minnesota, before being traded to Boston. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Coyle established himself as a physical and reliable center for the Wild. In the 2015-2016 season, he finished second on the team in goals scored with 21. Coyle held the Wild franchise-record of appearing in 316 consecutive games before breaking his leg in the 2017-2018 season. In 479 games he had 91 goals and 151 assists for Minnesota prior to the trade.
After the trade, Charlie Coyle got off to a slow start in Boston scoring only two goals and recording six points in 21 regular-season games. While Coyle struggled in the regular season, he showed his value during Boston’s playoff run. Coyle appeared in all of Boston’s 24 playoff games last year scoring nine goals (tied for the team lead) and seven assists, including the overtime winner in Game 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This season Coyle has appeared in 27 games scoring five goals and 10 assists while seeing an average of 16:33 minutes on ice. The Weymouth Massachusetts native has played well enough that the Bruins rewarded him with a six-year extension worth $31.5 million that carries an annual value of $5.25 million.
Analyzing Ryan Donato
Boston drafted Donato in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Coming out of Harvard, Donato’s game lends itself to be that of an offensive playmaker with strong shooting skills. At 6-feet tall and 192 pounds, he doesn’t bring the same physicality to a lineup that Coyle does. The Boston, Massachusetts native got his first opportunity for his hometown team during the 2017-2018 season where he appeared in 12 games scoring five goals and four assists while seeing an average of 14:42 minutes on ice.
Donato appeared in 34 games for the Bruins during the 2018-2019 season before being traded. In that time he had six goals and three assists for nine points while seeing an average of 12:30 minutes on ice. While in Boston, Donato appeared in 46 games totalling 11 goals and seven assists. Ultimately, the Bruins management felt Donato had not progressed enough and swapped him for a more established player in Coyle.
Since arriving in Minnesota, Donato got off to a strong start but has cooled down as of late. In the 22 games Donato appeared in for Minnesota during the 2018-2019 season, he totalled four goals and 12 assists while averaging 15:33 minutes on ice. Donato’s production is lower than Minnesota had hoped for when they traded for him.
Donato has scored three goals and three assists in 25 games this year with Minnesota. With his production lacking, Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has limited Donato’s ice time. Donato is an averaging 9:51 minutes on ice this season, over five minutes less than last season in Minnesota. He has also been shuffled between all four lines as well as being a healthy scratch at times.
The Conditional Fifth-Round Pick
The Wild also received a 2019 conditional fifth-round pick from Boston in the trade that ultimately became a fourth-round pick after the Bruins won a playoff series last year. On draft day, Minnesota traded the pick (99th overall) and a third-round pick (73rd overall) to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a second-round pick (59th overall).
With the 59th overall pick, the Wild selected goaltender Hunter Jones, of the Peterborough Petes in the OHL. Jones has appeared in 21 games for the Petes this year and posted a 2.63 goals-against-average with a 0.914 save percentage.
10 months later it appears that Boston got the better end of the deal. However, there is still a lot that remains to be seen. Donato is just a 23-year-old and if he can find his game he has the skill to be a top-six player who could score in bunches.
Last season, Minnesota finished with a record of 37–36–9 and missed playoffs for the first time since 2011-12. Due to this, Donato has yet to see postseason action in Minnesota and has underperformed this year. That lead to some speculation on his future in Minnesota.
With the Wild sitting at sixth place in the division and in the process of a rebuild, it can be challenging to grade young talent when the team is also struggling. There is still plenty of time for Donato to turn things around. At 23 years-old, Donato is young and inexperienced with hopes to learn and improve. “Mentally, it’s tough not to see (the stats). It’s tough to judge how you play when you don’t have anything at the end of the game,” said Donato. “But for me, it’s learning that it’s more than that. It’s a team game and being in the situation I’m in now I’m learning a lot of lessons.”
With Donato’s name coming up in trade talks it signals how the organization feels about his performance as of late. The Wild probably wouldn’t be able to get much in return for him right now so it might be beneficial to hold on to him during their rebuild and hope he, along with the future of the franchise, can turn the corner and find his game soon.
The Coyle trade has worked well for Boston and the organization likes what he brings to the table. A physical presence that can play top-six minutes and score. It doesn’t hurt that he excelled in last year’s postseason as well. Not only has Coyle found success on the ice, but he also seems to have fit well into the Bruins locker room. “At dinner in Vegas one night when I first met the team (last season), I could tell right there, I started to get a glimpse right there all about how close they were and it was something I wanted to be a part of and continue to be a part of,” said Coyle after signing his extension.
Since the trade, Coyle has become a necessary piece for Boston and will likely remain that way for quite some time. Look for him to play solid minutes bouncing between the second and third lines and use his physical style of play to create opportunities.