NCAA Prospect Report: Josh Doan
It started just like any other day at the rink.
Josh Doan was on the ice in Michigan practicing with Team USA at the World Junior Summer Showcase. When he got back to the locker room and checked his phone, his day and his future changed for the better.
He had just found out he was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the second round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The very same Coyotes franchise he grew up watching, grew up idolizing. And, the very same Coyotes franchise that his father, Shane had spent 21 seasons with.
“That was awesome, I was next to Mackie Samoskevich when I got drafted, that was a pretty cool experience seeing as we played together for the two years prior and had gotten pretty close,” the younger Doan told HockeyBuzz.
Samoskevich was drafted the day before, being selected by the Florida Panthers with the 24th overall pick.
“To celebrate with him [Samoskevich] was something special. Then when I got undressed and got to go upstairs, my mom and family were there. I got to give them hugs and my mom was pretty emotional, I think she was happier than anyone that I was staying close to home. Then getting the phone call from my dad I think was the most special part of the whole thing.”
The state of Arizona and the hockey being played inside of it was all Doan knew growing up. His memories as a kid, tagging alongside his father to practices and games are ones he’ll hold onto forever.
“It was awesome growing up with him playing, was definitely a neat experience that not everyone gets, kind of soaking it in throughout my life. I think him playing so long helped me grow, too because I was around it when I was older—he retired when I was 15,” Doan said.
“There were a lot of memories, but the one I look back on the most was in 2012 when they made that deep playoff run and got beat out by the Kings in the semifinals. A lot of great memories, but that’s the one I track back to every time.”
Having a father that played in the NHL certainly came with types of perks that others Doan would skate with and against did not have the luxury of having. But any time Doan would step onto the ice, everyone knew who he and his father was.
“I think there was a time my mom thought of putting her last name on the back of my jersey, or some combination of the two just to kind of keep away from that distraction of having my dad’s name,” said Doan. “It never really bugged me which is why we never did it.”
There’s no denying that the state of Arizona is not your traditional hockey market. But since the arrival of the Coyotes in 1996, through Arizona State University developing into a Division l college hockey program, to the development of Auston Matthews and his success at the NHL level, more and more hockey is being played in Arizona.
And with that, more and more talent coming from the state.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s starting to show more and more now as I look back and go back to the ice where I grew up skating. I think it was neat to see what everyone is doing and what paths the young guys are taking from Arizona,” said Doan. “I think when we go back to the rink every day throughout the summer and see these young kids, the skill level and talent in Arizona is awesome to see. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.
In June of 2019, Doan committed to Arizona State. At that time, the Sun Devils had just completed their fourth season at the Division l level, and were coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance.
“We definitely looked around for a bit, but once I talked to coach [Greg] Powers and the rest of the staff here, they got me out for a tour—actually the first time I had ever been to Arizona State was for my tour,” Doan said.
“The trust they put in me and the trust I put in them right away was something special, I’m thrilled I picked ASU.”
Doan spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Steel of the USHL. Last year he finished fourth in the league in goals with 31, third in assists with 39 and third in points with 70.
In his first season at Arizona State, Doan is finding early success with 16 points in 13 games. While he’s enjoying much on-ice success, it’s the little things of college hockey that he’s enjoying just as much.
“It’s been awesome, the biggest thing for us so far, for me being a young guy, is that we’ve been in some pretty spectacular student sections this year that have kind of let us hear it and it’s definitely a different experience than playing anywhere else in the world,” Doan said.
“I’ve been pretty happy with my start; I think I’ve been given an opportunity by our coaches to be successful. Up and down our lineup, no matter who you’ve been playing with, they give you a chance to be successful.”
The Sun Devils are one of three independent schools in college hockey—they have no conference to play in. Of the 16 teams that make the NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament, six of those automatically qualify for the national tournament by simply winning their respective conference’s postseason tournament.
Obviously, Arizona State is not awarded that same benefit.
“It's definitely a harder route, but I think we love it. It makes every game a playoff game,” said Doan. “You go into every game knowing you have to win, and every game is going to be a big game because you don’t have that opportunity to save yourself at the end of the year by winning the conference tournament. You have to be a team that’s in the top-15 to give yourself a chance.”
The Sun Devils currently sit at 6-7 coming off of Wednesday's loss to Bemidji State.
But as Doan will tell you, their record doesn’t quite reflect their on-ice play. They’ve let some games slip away late, haunted by some third period breakdowns.
“We’ve played some good games and competed. We’ve been up in big games that we couldn’t hold on and we’ve fell apart,” Doan said. “But it’s been kind of an interesting experience so far, we’ve battled through a lot of adversity in the early part of the season and that’s something we’re happy about.”
Doan leads the team in assists with 12 and is second in points. As good as a start as it’s been for him, it’s clear the best is yet to come.