Boston Bruins: Looking back on the Charlie Coyle-Ryan Donato swap with Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 04: Charlie Coyle #13 of the Boston Bruins and Nico Sturm #7 of the Minnesota Wild face-off during a game at Xcel Energy Center on April 4, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 04: Charlie Coyle #13 of the Boston Bruins and Nico Sturm #7 of the Minnesota Wild face-off during a game at Xcel Energy Center on April 4, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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charlie coyle bruins
ST. PAUL, MN – APRIL 04: Charlie Coyle #13 of the Boston Bruins and Nico Sturm #7 of the Minnesota Wild face-off during a game at Xcel Energy Center on April 4, 2019 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Teams that are in a “win-now” mode often have to ask a tough question that involves their young prospects: should we sacrifice the future to help the present?

The Bruins answered “yes” to this question last February when they made an in-season trade with the Minnesota Wild. Boston shipped Ryan Donato and a fifth-found pick to Minnesota for Charlie Coyle.

As we look back on the last nine or so months, was the trade worth it for Boston?

Did the Bruins win the Coyle-Donato trade with Minnesota?

Right now, the answer is obviously yes, but that wasn’t exactly the case at the end of the regular season last year.

We all remember Coyle’s great playoff run, but it’s easy to forget his struggles in the regular season. Coyle only had two goals and four assists in his first 21 games with the Bruins.

He didn’t look totally comfortable in his new role in Boston, and some people wondered if he was another player who couldn’t handle the hometown crowd.

Donato meanwhile got off to a solid start in Minnesota. In his last 22 games of the season, he scored four goals and added 12 assists.

Based on these numbers, how many of us would have preferred Coyle over Donato? Probably not a lot.

However, things really started to change for Coyle in the playoffs. He finally settled into the third-line center role, and he was a difference maker in the bottom-six.

Coyle stepped up his game in the biggest moments, and he finished with nine goals and seven assists in 24 games. He was a big reason why Boston made it to the Cup Final.

Coyle carried his strong play over into this season. He doesn’t quite have the numbers to show it, but he’s been one of Boston’s most consistent forwards this year.

His production picked up over the last couple of weeks, so now Coyle has 11 points through his first 22 games. He looks to be a staple on the third line, and the Bruins hope to re-sign him to a contract extension before this summer.

How do things look for Donato in Minnesota? Although he looked like a keeper last season for the Wild, Donato’s been anything but this year. In 20 games, he only has one goal and two assists.

What makes this worse is that Donato doesn’t really have the skills or the build to play in the bottom-six. He also doesn’t kill penalties, nor does he play a sound defensive game. He’s an offensive-first player who only fits in the top-six.

Donato doesn’t produce like a top-six player, and this is why he doesn’t see much ice time for the Wild. And honestly, if he doesn’t turn things around, he may never see that ice time.

Related Story. Coyle overshadowed by top line. light

This time last year, Donato was one of the more promising players in the Bruins system. Coyle was an underutilized player in Minnesota.

Fast forward a year, and Coyle is an integral part to a championship contender, while Donato can barely keep an NHL spot.

So, did the Bruins win the trade with Minnesota? 100% yes.