NHL Rumors: Joonas Donskoi Tells Sharks He'll Explore Free-agency Options

Joonas Donskoi is just one player on a long list of Sharks that will hit free agency. The winger could be on his way out the door, too. 

Donskoi's camp reportedly has told the Sharks that they're going to talk to other teams once the unrestricted free agency speaking period opens Sunday, The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported Friday. 

LeBrun makes it clear this doesn't automatically mean Donskoi's time with the Sharks is done, though he could be looking for a fresh start. After a disappointing end to San Jose's season in the Western Conference final, however, he made it clear he hopes to return

"Of course, it's been a great four years here and I really hope to be back," Donskoi said at the end of May. 

Donskoi, 27, is coming off a season where he played a career-high 80 games. But it was also a year full of inconsistency. He scored a career-high 37 points -- 14 goals, 23 assists -- but that's only five more points than he scored last year when he appeared in 14 less games. 

"There were a lot of ups and downs," Donskoi said. "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."

[RELATED: Should winger Kevin Labanc stay or go?]

Even if Donskoi's desire is to return to San Jose, it could be tough for the Sharks. After signing Erik Karlsson to a massive contract that made him the highest-paid defenseman in the NHL, the team still has to make decisions on Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and many others. 

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