Last week, Michael Russo of The Athletic reported that first-year Minnesota Wild general manager Paul Fenton “has green light to make trades” even if it meant downgrading and potentially costing his team a playoff spot. On Wednesday evening, Fenton did just that.
Fenton and Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney executed a trade that sent Charlie Coyle to Beantown in exhange for Ryan Donato and a fifth round pick.
Coyle has long been rumored to be on the outside in Minnesota. Drafted 28th overall in 2010 by San Jose, Coyle was immediately thrust into the Wild’s system in the Brent Burns trade. Following the deal, Coyle played five full seasons and two partial seasons for the Wild. Outside of putting up 56 points in 2016-17, Coyle failed to put up more than mediocre numbers. The big, 6-foot-3 power forward is generally renowned for his size and strength on the puck, though.
As for Donato, he was drafted 56th overall in 2014 by Boston. In 46 NHL games over the course of two seasons, he put up 11 goals and 18 points. What gained Donato his notoriety in Boston’s system was his work at Harvard, where he put up back-to-back point-per-game and 20-goal seasons.
Donato has struggled a bit this season, but it does not put a red mark on his high-level status. He has the ability to be a 25-goal scorer in the NHL one day, and that is something that Fenton would love to see materialize.
The trade may seem lopsided in Minnesota’s favor based on potential and past production, but this was a necessary evil for Boston. The Bruins have an overtly aging core — Chara is about to turn 42, David Backes is 34, Patrice Bergeron is 33, David Krejci is nearly 33.
Sweeney understands that time is running out on his core and he needs to bring in players that can have an immediate and definite impact on his hockey club. Coyle also fits the bill of the big, bad Bruins with his size.
As for the Wild, they will probably be extremely grateful a few years down the line when Donato hits his stride. If his years at Harvard are any indication, Minnesota just got a versatile, powerplay scorer that can make a difference down the middle.
Overall, the deal makes sense for both teams. Maybe in a few years, the fifth round pick heading to Minnesota will be something, but that is simply semantics.
For the Wild, this is a deal that hurts now, but makes too much sense for the future. For Boston, it is the exact opposite. Only time will now tell is Coyle will lift the Stanley Cup in black and gold.