SAN JOSE -- Like every other Sharks player with a contract ending this summer, Joonas Donskoi said he was trying not to focus too much on what might happen after the season was over.
"During the season I wanted to focus on hockey," he told the media during San Jose's season-ending locker cleanout on May 23. "Our goal was to win the Stanley Cup so all of my thoughts were in that process."
Now that process is over and the focus turns to the long list of free agents on Team Teal's roster -- and which of those free agents will be in San Jose next season. Donskoi, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, finds himself on that list following a season full of highs and lows. One thing is for certain though: He's hoping to be one of the players who stays.
"Of course, it's been a great four years here and I really hope to be back," Donskoi said.
The Finnish forward is coming off something of a rollercoaster campaign for the Sharks. Following two seasons that were hampered by injuries, Donskoi played in 80 regular-season contests. He hit his stride in the middle of the season after being put on Tomas Hertl's wing, tallying at least one point in eight out of nine contests. However, after scoring a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 10, he couldn't find the back of the net and was subsequently a healthy scratch twice toward the end of the regular season.
"There were a lot of ups and downs," Donskoi summarized when asked about the season. "I think the main thing for me coming into this season was staying healthy. I was pretty healthy all season long, during the regular season. Some small injuries. But like I said, there were ups and downs."
Donskoi had much better luck in the playoffs as head coach Peter DeBoer moved him throughout the lineup -- a valuable trait for a player, regardless of team. He even ended his goal drought by scoring a game-winning goal in the playoffs against the Colorado Avalanche -- a beautiful wraparound attempt reminiscent of a goal he scored during the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Nevertheless, Donskoi wishes he had been able to contribute more.
"I think I played my best hockey in the playoffs, (but) the thing I could've done better is be more productive, score more goals," he said. "I think that's what we needed in the playoffs. It's all about that."
Now that the playoffs are over, attention turns to what the 27-year-old brings to the table beyond this summer. One thing that Donskoi has on his side is he can be moved throughout the lineup and help create offense, which has aided the Sharks' depth throughout his tenure in teal. However, that also makes him an attractive player to other teams in need of adding depth to their offensive arsenal, so it won't be a surprise if he's pursued -- maybe even by a division rival.
Of course, Donskoi's future isn't hinging solely on how he played for the Sharks during the 2018-19 season. He is one of five unrestricted free agents set to hit the market, including big fish Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton, and Joe Pavelski. With so many tough decisions that have to be made, Donskoi is by no means a certainty to be back in teal next season.
We do know, however, that he's hoping to stay.