If nothing else, the Sharks will boast a roster comprised by the best names in the NHL over the next five years.
It hasn't been confirmed by the team yet and there was some confusion as to whether Florida was the club to sign him but with NHL.com updating his player page to signify he's a Shark, it looks like San Jose has signed 23-year-old Finnish League playoff MVP Joonas Donskoi to a 2-year entry-level contract. The deal was first reported by Renaud Lavoie, indicating the Panthers had inked their fourth round pick from the 2010 draft, but Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman later suggested the Sharks were in on the skilled winger. As he's now listed as a Shark by the league, it seems just about official he'll begin his North American career in San Jose.
Donskoi, initially drafted by Florida five years ago before becoming a free agent when they failed to sign him, is coming off a fantastic season capped by an 8 points in 8 games performance for Team Finland at the IIHF World Championships. Prior to that showing in Prague, Donskoi won the Jari Kurri award as Liiga playoff MVP with 22 points in 19 playoff games for Karpat. He tallied a career-high 49 in 58 regular season games; only three players in the entire Finnish league, all well over the age of 30, scored more this season.
The 6'0", 187-pound forward who can reportedly play both wings has been described as an "explosive skater with excellent stickhandling ability and puck control" and had Panthers center Aleksander Barkov wondering at the Worlds why he wasn't already a seasoned NHLer. Donskoi was also something of a shootout specialist for Karpat this year and reprised that role for Team Finland, scoring a beauty on Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky last week. Given what Melker Karlsson was able to do on a line with the Joes, it's exciting to imagine what a player like Donskoi with an actual track record of producing offense at a pro level could accomplish in that role.
Even if he needs AHL seasoning to get to that stage, and even if he never turns out to be a NHLer at all, Donskoi is the kind of risk-free, promising lottery ticket the Sharks have had success betting on in the past and are wise to continue pursuing. Assuming they actually have signed him, that is; more on this story as it develops. In the meantime, here's the Joonas Donskoi highlight video: