The Colorado Avalanche made a very smart move when they signed Joonas Donskoi off the free-agent market from the San Jose Sharks. Donskoi was buried on the San Jose depth chart but has a tremendous opportunity to reach new highs with the Avs in 2019-20.
What Joonas Donskoi has Done so Far
Donskoi was originally drafted by the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL Draft. He has played for the past four years, accumulating 283 NHL games. Last season saw the 6’0″ Finn post a 14 goals and a career-best 37 points. He also chipped in 36 blocks and another career-high with 36 hits in 80 games.
Donskoi has been an effective player in his four years despite averaging just over 14 minutes of ice time per game. He has posted just one season in 2016-17 where he shot below 10%. That was his worst offensive season but he rebounded with two straight seasons of over 30 points. He has also been good on puck possession with three of his four years featuring positive marks in relative Corsi. His career possession metrics of 2.6 Corsi and 2.8 Fenwick rates behind very few current Avs players. The analytics come out in favor of Donskoi as he enters a new phase of his career.
What to Expect
Donskoi is currently battling for a spot on the top line next to stars Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Donskoi would be an effective addition to that trio if Mikko Rantanen continues to hold out for a new contract. His primary competition for that spot is fellow newcomer Andre Burakovsky who brings his own skills to the table.
Donskoi will slot down on the second or third line if he loses the battle for the top line. Either line would put the 27-year-old next to any number of players capable of producing this season. Donskoi’s ability to drive play and score fits well on a Colorado team with a high-octane offense. He will add an extra scoring punch to a team that needed secondary scoring last season and made multiple moves to acquire such assets this summer. Donskoi isn’t big enough to act as a traditional screener in front of the net but he can work as an offensive driver pushing the puck into the offensive zone from the wing.
There will be plenty of chances for Donskoi to show Avalanche fans that he is a quality top-six or top-nine forward. Rantanen’s holdout has a chance to extend into the regular season and give players like Donskoi prime playing time. A minimum of 35-45 points is reasonable depending on which line he ultimately settles.