This season wasn't easy for Joonas Donskoi. The winger separated his shoulder twice this season and it was obvious that he wasn't performing at the level he's capable of.
Notably, after his return from injury, he suffered a fourteen game point drought. While the drought was ended with a multi-assist game, those two points were all he scored in the final seventeen games of the regular season. For comparison, in the seventeen games prior to his injury, he had seven points, four of which were goals.
Donskoi wasn't the only forward struggling offensively this year, but he may have been the most noticeable. After an impressive rookie season and twelve points in the 2016 playoff run, Donskoi's seventeen points (and only six goals) on this season are underwhelming, at best.
One issue is that he wasn't shooting as much. According to Corsica, when adjusted for score, zone, and venue, Donskoi's shots for per 60 dropped from 31.11 to 29.75 – not a huge difference, but one that likely happened after returning from injury. His scoring chances per 60 also dropped from 10.27 to 9.75. Again, not a huge drop, but that drought didn't do him any favors.
Another issue is inconsistent lines. Last year, he played a large part of the season on Logan Couture’s wing, alongside Joel Ward. This season, especially after his return from injury in the later part of the season, saw him shuffled around a bit more. Inconsistent play on top of injuries add up to a shaky second season.
2016-17 Sharks 5v5 Usage Chart (via Corsica Hockey)
ZSR: Zone Start Ratio; The percentage of non-neutral zone starts that are offensive zone starts (OZS/(OZS + DZS))
TOI.QoT: Time On Ice Quality of Teammates; The weighted average TOI% of a player’s teammates
Rel.CF%: Individual corsi-for percentage subtracted by the team’s overall corsi-for percentage.
Joonas Donskoi Rolling 25-game score, zone, and venue-adjusted average CF% (via Corsica Hockey)
Joonas Donskoi Hero Chart (via Own The Puck)
Randy Hahn calling him “Donny Hockey” had to be his best moment of the season, right?
Donskoi had his second ever multi-goal game (the first coming against the Kings in the 2016 playoffs) against the Calgary Flames on December 20th. A healthy Donskoi shows a lot of promise.
What comes next?
Donskoi was just re-signed to a two year deal at $1.9 million. Doug Wilson appears to have faith in the 25 year-old:
“He plays the game the way we want to play as a team, and we feel he has only scratched the surface of his abilities. He battled through multiple injuries last season and we look forward to having him healthy at training camp this season.”
Coming back healthy is his biggest hurdle right now. Once that happens, there’s not reason he can’t post his rookie numbers again.
Hell, it’s only his second year in the NHL. Maybe he can even do better.