After registering his first career hat trick on Thursday night, Colorado Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi learned on Friday that he and his teammates will be heading to his native Finland next year.
The NHL announced that the Avs and Columbus Blue Jackets will face off in a pair of regular-season games next fall at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, as part of the 2020 NHL Global Series.
"That is amazing news, I am super excited," Donskoi said to ColoradoAvalanche.com. "I have big family in Finland, a lot of friends and all of that stuff so it will be fun to play in front of your friends and family.
"It is kind of far away, so the focus is on this season right now, but it kind of gives you energy to know that it's coming. I told the news to my family today and they were super excited, and I think they will all be in Helsinki to see us play."
Donskoi was selected by the Florida Panthers in the fourth round (99th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft and spent the following five seasons playing in Finland's top professional league (Liiga) before making the jump to North America.
The 6-foot, 190-pound forward played four seasons with the San Jose Sharks and recorded 122 points (45 goals, 77 assists) in 283 contests with the organization before signing with the Avalanche as a free agent this past summer.
"I am happy that NHL is doing that, you know playing games in Europe and all over the world," Donskoi said of the Global Series. "I know for sure that we have a lot of fans in Finland and I know the rink is going to be packed, so I think it is good for the league."
With his three goals in Colorado's 9-4 win against the Nashville Predators at Pepsi Center on Thursday, Donskoi tied his career high with three points in an outing. The right wing is fifth on the Avs with 11 points (eight goals, three assists) through the first 16 games of the year and is set to appear in his 300th NHL contest on Saturday against Columbus.
OPTIONAL PRACTICE ON FRIDAY
The Avalanche players had an option to skate or do an off-ice workout on Friday ahead of the team's matchup against Columbus on Saturday. Forwards J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost and T.J. Tynan, defensemen Mark Barberio, Ian Cole, Ryan Graves and Cale Makar and goaltenders Pavel Francouz and Adam Werner elected to participate in the on-ice session.
Defenseman Nikita Zadorov played 7:13 versus the Preds befoore leaving the contest at the 4:09 mark of the second stanza and is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
"He got hit in the face with that shot," head coach Jared Bednar said of Zadorov. "He has gone to the doctor today, so I would say he is out indefinitely. I don't have all the details with his injury just yet, we will know more later today."
Center Nathan MacKinnon also did not finish Colorado's outing against Nashville as a precautionary measure, but he should be an option to play against the Blue Jackets.
"I think [MacKinnon] is going to be fine, I expect him to play tomorrow, maintenance day today, with a lot of our guys actually," said Bednar. "We have a handful of guys that are nicked up and rest is important. We had a good showing last night obviously, after a day where you could either hit the gym or go on the ice--whatever you felt was best for yourself personally--so we decided to go with that again."
On Friday afternoon, the Avalanche recalled Jayson Megna from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League. Megna has 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 117 career NHL outings.