Wild lock up shoot-first winger Ryan Donato with a two-year deal

ST. PAUL — Ryan Donato and his shoot-first mentality will be sticking around the Twin Cities for the next couple of years. The 23-year-old winger signed a two-year, $3.8 million contract Tuesday, July 16, and is poised to step into a more prominent with the Wild next season.

While there wasn’t much concern that general manager Paul Fenton would be able to get a deal done, it’s certainly a relief to lock up Donato for the foreseeable future.

After being acquired from the Boston Bruins last season in exchange for fan favorite Charlie Coyle, it didn’t take Donato long to endear himself to the local fan base. He tallied 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists) in 22 games with the Wild last season, and maybe most promising, he never shied away from an opportunity to score, firing 64 shots on goal. He also played a pivotal role as the minor-league Iowa Wild made a short run through the Calder Cup Playoffs before being knocked out in the second round by the Chicago Wolves.

Originally a second-round pick by the Bruins in the 2014 NHL Draft, Donato starred at Harvard for three years, recording 104 points (60 goals, 44 assists). He has represented the United States twice in international competition, winning a bronze medal at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland, and leading Team USA in scoring at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Hulking center Nico Sturm and puck-moving defenseman Carson Soucy also re-signed with the Wild on Tuesday. Sturm inked a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $874,125 in the NHL and $70,000 in the American Hockey League, and Soucy signed a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $750,000 in the NHL and $125,000 in the AHL.

It seems like the 24-year-old Sturm would have a better chance of making the team, especially considering the Wild made a point to sign him last season once his career at Clarkson University ended. He likely will be jockeying for position in the bottom six of the lineup with other roster hopefuls.

As for the 24-year-old Soucy, even though he provides some depth on the blue line, it could be hard for him to crack the roster with so many talented players ahead of him on the depth chart.