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Scott Takes: Joonas Donskoi to Seattle was best-case scenario



Avs third line, Joonas Donskoi

Well, the Avalanche were bound to lose a good one to the Seattle expansion draft, and losing Joonas Donskoi was probably best-case scenario for Colorado.

The draft itself was a less exciting television event than it was originally intended to be. Various journalists across the Twittersphere leaked the Kraken’s picks hours before the primetime ESPN 2 spectacle was set to air, including the Donskoi pick.

Still, all things considered, it was a decent presentation, for ESPN’s grand return to NHL broadcast. Great location—with downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainer in the backdrop—local celebrity, including Macklemore, Sue Bird, Marshawn Lynch (noted Colorado Avalanche fan), and the Reign Man himself: former six-time NBA All-Star Shawn Kemp, who was the one to announce the Joonas Donskoi pick.

But pomp and circumstance aside, let’s talk Donskoi-to-Seattle, shall we?

I made sure not to bury the lede on this one. Indeed, the Kraken choosing Joonas Donskoi was best-case scenario, all things considered.

I think GM Joe Sakic won here. He knew full well he couldn’t protect the forwards he wanted to protect and also Ryan Graves. So what does he do? He avoids losing Graves for nothing and flips him for a second-round pick and a young depth forward (and Sakic has a keen-eye for depth forwards). Ryan Graves would’ve undoubtedly been Seattle’s choice; may as well not let him walk for nothing. He then got to protect all that he wanted to protect, and made sure he gained some assets for those he knew he couldn’t.

Another rumored pick ripe for the Kraken’s picking ahead of the the expansion draft was J.T. Compher. I truly do think we’ve yet to see Compher’s best. With that said, and given Compher’s versatility in the lineup, I do consider Seattle taking Donskoi a better option if you’re the Avalanche.

Now look, I don’t want to make this seem like there should be a celebration that Donskoi is leaving. Quite the opposite. In fact, I protected Joonas Donskoi in all my expansion mock drafts.

But it was going to come down to Donskoi, Graves or Tyson Jost. He protects Jost—which I think is a great call—while flipping Graves for some assets, all while shedding Donskoi’s $3.9 million hit (which, believe it or not, was one of the Avs highest-paid forward contracts). This gives Sakic some additional room to match any contract offers for his captain come July 28. It also gives him additional wiggle room to re-sign his Vezina-finalist goaltender and ensure his young, perennial-Norris-candidate defenseman, Cale Makar, is one of the highest-paid D-men in the NHL. It also gives him additional space to sign the likes of Jost and RFA Conor Timmins, and other possible candidates, like Brandon Saad.

Superstreak Bonus!

The Avs will miss Joonas Donskoi. He was a Swiss Army Knife of sorts. He could play second line, fourth line, and was part of one of Colorado’s most consistent lines for a good portion of the season. He played power play and some PK, too. His Corsi numbers were great (57.86%, in all situations). He was disciplined; he only only took five penalties all season long. He was fifth on the team in takeaways. The list goes on.

Joonas Donskoi was sneaky good. He’s not a guy that’s going to wow you with crazy offensive numbers, though he did set a career high in goals this season (17, good for fourth-best on the team), despite playing just 51 games, besting his career-best shooting percentage by a good margin, too. Joonas Donskoi was an above-average player in his two seasons in Colorado. Indeed, he will be missed. His contract, however, will not.

Money is money is money, and that’s what this comes down to. Losing Donskoi is best-case scenario, not because we should be wiping our brow that Seattle picked the Avs’ worst option available. That’s not the case; losing Donskoi will no doubt be felt throughout the lineup next year. It’s best case, because the Avs could’ve had it much worse.

The Avs gained assets in the form of a pick, a prospect and the +$3.9 million the Avs’ accountant gets to add to the “Debits” portion of the balance sheet. This is a win for the bookkeepers, and for Joe Sakic’s wallet. And it’s money that’ll now need to be paid to the Accounts Receivable Dept. of some of his soon-to-be well-paid, in-house free agents.

This is where we’ll turn our attention to over the next week. Where does Gabe Landeskog go, if anywhere? Will Cale Makar get $9 or $10 million per year? What about Philipp Grubauer? Will Brandon Saad be an Av next year? Do the Avs make a play for Ryan Suter?

All of these questions will be answered very shortly, and Joe Sakic’s phone will surely be a busy one over the next couple of weeks. Time to shift focus.

Best of luck in Seattle, Joonas.


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A graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, Scott has so far spent the early parts of his young career covering Colorado hockey — from the Avalanche to the Colorado Eagles to the DU Pioneers. His work can be found across sites such as, and SB Nation, among others. Scott currently resides in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, where he works as a Marketing Executive when he's not writing.

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Jared Moss

Joe needs to look at what Francis just did, don’t think he picked a defenseman under 6″2 with all his picks, got a big tough D core to run with, aswell as the forwards he picked bigger young hard checking forwards. No superstars but that can be added later with the left over cap space. Gonna be interesting. Only odd pick was Giordano cause hes old and kinda bitch move to not let him retire in Calgary

Richard Trujillo

The Kraken have actually been paying attention. Bigger, stronger, faster. That is how you win. The Tyson Barries and Josts of the world just don’t get it done when you are serious about the Cup.

Yan Girard

A team wins the Cup with a good goalie, a good defensive and a good center line. Jost is a center and is very young at only 23 years old. Jost has improved significantly in the last year and has the potential to improve again. You cann’t to underestimate the importance of a good center. Seatte would have selected certainly Jost if he was available. Sakic protected Jost and that was the right choice.

Yan Girard

Your comment is anything. Did you see the players that was protected by the teams? Francis chose the best selections according to the contract of players, history of players, the potential of players and their AVAILABILITY. If the Francis’team doesn’t change, this team won’t participate at the playoffs. But this team will change. There will not be the half of players selected in expansion draft that will play for the Kraken in next October. Sakic has on hand an elite team. The odds to win the Cup the next year are for the Avs. Don’t mix the things.

Bob Neal

Bigger, stronger and faster is what wins Cups. Avs are not going to win the Cup in the foreseeable future if they don’t figure it out. Bet we see the Kraken in the playoffs.

Yan Girard

Knights Vegas was the NHL team the biggest, strongest, faster and didn’t achieve the final cup this year. How do you explain it? The Kraken will be in playoffs the next year but not with the actual alignment that is more an AHL team. All the hockey experts agree this affirmation.


Scott – any personal predictions we might see in the coming days?


Compher would have been much better scenario for the Avs. That’s why they picked Donskoi.


I love the couch GMs who think they know what wins a Stanley Cup better than the actual GM who won a couple of them. In Joe we trust

Wayne Dunlap

It’s all about the extra cash. Hopefully we pickup a player who can replace Donny’s production because it sure isn’t gonna be Jost or JTC. I really don’t understand the infatuation with Jost (yea, I know he’s cheap) and Compher is as underwhelming a player as there is in the league for $3.5M AAV. I don’t see either one of them getting any better. Now, IMO, we really do need Saad or someone like him.

Matt Briggle

I totally agree with you here Scott. It sucks to lose those two guys but we got a little something in return for one of them and about $7 mil in cap space. Now they have to use it wisely.


It will be interesting to see how Jost does this year. If he continues to improve the Kraken move could look really good. If not then we can all whine and say ” I told you so”.

[…] Scott Takes: Joonas Donskoi to Seattle was best-case scenario […]


I know Joe got some assets in return BUT the Avalanche still lost TWO good players in Graves and Donskoi with this expansion draft B.S.


It was never going to “come down to Donskoi, Graves or Jost.” It was always coming down to Donskoi, Graves or Compher. Sakic was always going to protect Jost over Donskoi and Compher because a) he plays more than both of them and b) he makes a lot less money than either. And guess what? He protected Jost over Donskoi and Compher. He needs cap and he needed to get rid of one of those salaries.

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