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BREAKING: Sharks Don’t Qualify Donato, Merkley



As expected, Ryan Donato will not receive a qualifying offer from the San Jose Sharks.

The RFA’s QO would’ve been $2.15 million dollars. Instead, it appears that San Jose will allow the 25-year-old winger to enter unrestricted free agency on Jul. 28.

There is a chance, albeit unlikely, that the Sharks will re-sign Donato to a lower figure than his QO before then.

The San Jose Sharks also declined to qualify their newest acquisition, Nick Merkley, but the Sharks and Merkley are expected to reach a new contract agreement. Merkley’s qualifying offer was $874,125.

How Can Nick Merkley Help Sharks?

San Jose has qualified RFA Noah Gregor, while Arizona previously qualified Adin Hill. Hill is expected to command a sizable increase over his $800,000 QO.

Hill’s Cap Hit Will Probably Be Higher Than Expected

The big news here is Donato.

The winger came to San Jose via Minnesota — for a 2021 third-round draft pick — with high expectations. There were hopes that he could establish himself as a top-six winger, but his playing time under Bob Boughner decreased every month.

That third-round pick sent to the Wild, by the way, was eventually re-routed to Edmonton and became 90th pick Luca Munzenberger.

Donato notched six goals and 14 assists in 50 games. In January, Donato averaged 14:55 Per Game, 13:53 in February, 12:24 in March, 11:19 in April, and 7:12 in May.

Boughner elaborated in his exit interview: “Everybody knows he’s got a great offensive skill-set. He can help you from the top of circles down. I think it’s the other part of the game that he struggles with from time to time.

“As the season went on, guys get worn down and they slow down a bit.

“It was a matter of him being able to stick to the details, help us out that way.

“But the one thing about Ryan, he can help any team because of his offense. He’s good in front of the net on the power play. He’s a guy that loves coming to the rink, he’s a great teammate, and all those things.

“We just got to get the details of his game just a little better. When you’re playing against top-end players, if you want to be a top-six guy, you gotta be responsible in all areas of the ice, and that’s sort of what we talked about.”

However, other organizations might not be as down on Donato as the San Jose Sharks are.

“It should’ve been a fit,” an NHL scout told San Jose Hockey Now. “He had the opportunity to play with different centers. He wasn’t able to bust down the door.

“But he can shoot the puck. He’s a pretty good player who may find his way somewhere else.”

Another NHL scout shared this nuanced opinion: “He’s more of an individually talented player, but lacks overall speed to do it on his own. And he’s not talented enough to get by like that. He doesn’t make his linemates better.”

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