Sometimes, real life hockey mirrors fantasy hockey. Often, in fantasy hockey, the best time to draft a player is the season after a down year. In real life, the same can be said, although rather than drafting or trading, free agency can be the method of acquisition.
This is what happened with Joonas Donskoi and as such, the Colorado Avalanche were able to sign him for four years with an average annual value of $3.9M.
What Colorado gets
Donskoi’s 2018-19 season saw the lowest ice time per game of his career, and it declined as the season wore on, quarter by quarter. With the bevy of offensive talent on the San Jose roster, he was largely pushed off the power play as well, playing just 47 minutes with the man advantage. That was a cut of over half his PP minutes in more games played compared to 2017-18.
Despite the cut in ice time, and despite the loss of PP time, Donskoi still managed a career-high with 37 points. Yes, scoring was up in the league and the Sharks were a good team, but it’s still notable that in a season where things seemingly didn’t go right for him, he was still productive.
He’s not just empty production, either. He does everything well. Donskoi is very good in transition with high rates of zone exits/entries, he’s good at finding his teammates as his passing stats and primary assist rates are both in the top-third of the league over the last three years, and he’s better defensively than he gets credit for. He’s a bona fide, two-way middle-six winger who can play up and down the lineup. That phrase gets thrown around (incorrectly) a lot but he’s legitimately good enough to play with a top line, or help carry and stabilize a third line.
This also helps fill in a need for the Avalanche. The team already got