Matt Donovan was signed to an AHL contract last offseason after going overseas to Sweden in 2016. On November 5, Donovan was inked to a two-year, NHL contract after a blistering start to the season in Milwaukee, where he finished with 35 points in 64 games playing top minutes for the Admirals.
At the time, Donovan had some interesting remarks about the Predators’ interest in signing him in years past. He noted that they offered to bring him in on AHL deal with the assurance he could receive an NHL deal with good play.
Season in Review
In his two-game stint in the NHL, Donovan had a less-than-stellar defensive result. In 14 minutes of ice time, he finished with a 43.75% Corsi For and a 12.69% rate relative to his teammates.
However, his most common partner was Matt Irwin (I think that speaks for itself), and his PDO when on the ice was a shockingly-low 92.5.
In Milwaukee, Donovan graded out as one of the team’s best performances when I measured weighted impact earlier this year. Among the top-four defenders, he was just slightly behind Frederic Allard in goals-against per 60 minutes and contributed heavily on the power play and offensively overall.
Donovan only appeared in two games for Nashville this year, registering one point on March 5th assisting on a Craig Smith goal. It was his first NHL point in over four years.
Our sample size is limited, but I think the runaway answer is having to play with Matt Irwin.
Donovan will return as Milwaukee’s top option on the blue line in 2019-20. With Matt Irwin and Steve Santini likely slotted in as depth options in Nashville, Donovan will remain the primary call-up option, barring a training camp that forces the coaching staff’s hand.
Given the circumstance, it was hard to ask for more from Donovan, who excelled in Milwaukee and expertly carved out a role in the organization from an AHL contract. His defensive output in his two-game appearance wasn’t great, but the context of it noted above helps alleviate those concerns.
How would you grade Matt Donovan’s season in Nashville?
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All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com.