Joonas Donskoi and Carl Hagelin Announce Retirement from NHL, How will this affect their teams?

Recently, two NHL players announced their retirements after complications with lingering injury problems.

Joonas Donskoi has been battling through concussions, and those problems have led to him calling it a career. The 31-year-old announced on his Instagram that he will retire, calling it the best decision “for my own well-being and future.”

The other retirement was from two-time Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin. Now 35 years old, he missed the entire 2022-23 season because of severe eye and hip injuries.

Joonas Donskoi Retirement

Donskoi was a fourth round pick by the Florida Panthers in 2010 (99th overall), but never signed with the team. Eventually, he would be a late bloomer after playing at the professional level with the Finnish Liiga, making his biggest impact as soon as the 2013-14 season and followed it up with 49 points in 58 games with Kärpät, along with 22 more points in 18 playoff games, and then eight points in as many games at the IIHF World Championship.

He was rewarded with an entry-level contract from the San Jose Sharks ahead of the 2015-16 season, and got a regular spot on the lineup. His rookie season was strong, totaling 11 goals and 25 assists in 76 games, and carried it on with 12 points in 24 playoff games in the Sharks’ first Stanley Cup Final appearance. He played four seasons with San Jose before signing a four-year, $15.6 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

He had his two best seasons goal scoring-wise with Colorado, at 16 and 17, and had 11 points in 19 playoff games for them, being a reliable secondary scorer for them before being selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Unfortunately, he seemed snakebitten during his time in Seattle, scoring just twice in 75 games, though he had 20 assists, but then missed all of last season with a concussion that ended his playing career.

It’s an unfortunate end for him, and while his career was short, he was willing to fight for opportunities. He continued showing that he would do whatever it would take to stay in the NHL. Interestingly, he’s the only fourth round pick from his Draft class to surpass 200 career points, finishing with 208 points in 474 career games. That’s a nice showing for someone who played his way to an entry-level contract at age 23 after he was not signed by the team who drafted him.

Carl Hagelin Retirement

Hagelin was drafted by the New York Rangers in the sixth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft out of Södertälje SK’s junior program. He chose to play college hockey with the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA, a somewhat unconventional path for European prospects coming to North America immediately, but it was the right choice eventually, having produced at over a point per game in his last two seasons there.

He began the 2011-12 season with the AHL‘s Connecticut Whale, but quickly got an opportunity with the Rangers, immediately making an impact with a point in each of his first four games. While he contributed offensively his rookie season, with 14 goals and 24 assists in 64 games, his blistering speed and excellent defensively play made him very crucial to the lineup, generating scoring opportunities and being a very reliable penalty killer.

He consistently produced in the 30-to-40-point range with the Rangers, though his tenure there ended abruptly, as his signing rights were dealt to the Anaheim Ducks, being traded away for Emerson Etem. While he had the richest contract of his career with Anaheim (four years, $16 million), he couldn’t find his game there, leading to him getting traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for David Perron, who was similarly underperforming in Pittsburgh.

That would turn out to be one of the best transactions of Jim Rutherford’s GM career with the Penguins. Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel formed the famous “HBK Line,” named after retired wrester Shawn Michaels, as they played a heavy role in the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cups. He would remain a bottom-six scoring winger the rest of his career with Pittsburgh, the Los Angeles Kings, and Washington Capitals before a freak eye injury in practice in March 2022 ended his career.

He previously told reporters at the beginning of the offseason that he was hoping to return to the NHL for this coming season, but that is no longer the case after his four-year, $11 million extension he signed with the Washington Capitals in 2019 expired. Even though he was a late round pick, he worked his way up to the NHL. He wasn’t a flashy player, but he always made the smart plays, blocked shots, and used his speed for scoring opportunities, knowing what it takes to win.

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