Joonas Donskoi’s under-the-radar two-year stint with the Avalanche was memorable in many ways. The 31-year-old forward announced his retirement from the NHL via Instagram on Sunday, just two years after being selected in the 2021 Seattle Kraken expansion draft.

Donskoi’s last contract was a four-year, $14 million deal signed with Colorado on July 1, 2019 — a few months removed from a seven-game series victory over the eighth-seeded Avs as a member of the San Jose Sharks. It was the same offseason the Avalanche swung big on trades for Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky. They also signed recently bought-out forward Valeri Nichushkin to a bargain contract, which has paid dividends in the four years since.

Donskoi, the big free-agent signing for the team that summer, was part of a new era of Avalanche hockey. Following an exciting 2019 postseason run as the eighth seed, the Avs were ready to take the next step in their development as a contender. Donskoi, along with Kadri, Burakovsky and Nichushkin — and the emergence of rookie defenseman Cale Makar, gave Colorado the depth needed to elevate itself from a fringe playoff team to one of the best in the NHL.

If Donskoi should be remembered for anything, it’s for helping usher in the emergence of the powerhouse the Avs have since become. Donskoi would spend a large part of his two years in Denver as a top-six forward. His two best goal-scoring seasons were as a member of the Avalanche, scoring 16 goals in 65 games in 2019-20 before beating that mark with 17 in 2021 despite playing 14 fewer games.

The highlight of his time with the Avalanche — and one of the best moments of his NHL career — came in that shortened 2021 season. Already on a scoring tear paired mostly with Tyson Jost and Nichushkin on the third line, Donskoi broke a franchise record, scoring a hat trick in the first 7:31 of a 9-3 victory over Arizona at Ball Arena. It was the first Avalanche game with fans in attendance in 385 days, and they got to witness history and litter the ice with hats. Donskoi scored at 4:04, 6:04 and 7:31, accomplishing the feat in just over three minutes.

After finishing fifth in goals on an offensively-gifted Avalanche roster, Donskoi was selected by the Kraken and went on to dress in 71 games in their inaugural season. He missed the entire 2022-23 season with a concussion.