Josh Doan completed his sophomore season at Arizona State the way that he began it: in dramatic fashion.
After scoring the first goal in Mullett Arena history on Oct. 14 vs. Colgate, Doan scored the game-winning goal as the Sun Devils (18-21) beat Long Island, 2-1 in overtime on Saturday, to complete a frustrating and injury-plagued season on a high note.
For Doan, it will also be the last note that he plays at ASU. Doan will not return to the Sun Devils for his junior season. He informed the program on Tuesday that he had opted to turn pro. The Coyotes and their 2021 second-round pick (No. 37) agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract on Thursday and Doan will join the Tucson Roadrunners as they push for a playoff spot in the AHL’s Pacific Division.
Doan’s entry-level contract will not kick in until next season. He is on an amateur tryout contract in Tucson (ATO) for the rest of the season and he will be eligible to compete in the AHL playoffs if the Roadrunners make it.
The #Yotes signed '21 2nd Round Pick RW Josh Doan to 3 year Entry Level Deal
NHL Salary 832.5K
Signing Bonus 92.5K
Cap Hit/AAV 925K
Rep'd by Allain Roy @rsghockey https://t.co/CK9vtnnMj8
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) March 17, 2023
This was an incredibly difficult decision for Doan. He spent weeks consulting with friends such as University of Minnesota forwards Matthew Knies and Logan Cooley, Tucson Roadrunners forward Nathan Smith, family friend and former Coyote Tyson Nash, as well as his parents, Shane and Andrea. He admitted to changing his mind about eight times.
“ASU, in the best way possible, made this decision difficult with all they’ve done for me and my family in the time I was here,” Doan said. “I don’t want to leave this place, but at the same time, we’re trying to figure out what’s best for development purposes and what’s best to pursue my career.
“Any time you get the chance to sign with the team you grew up cheering for and your dad played for, that’s a pretty special opportunity. It didn’t really hit me until I talked to my mom about it last night. She was obviously here when the Coyotes drafted me. To be with her and share this moment with her meant a lot.”
The decision is a mild surprise. When Doan chose to attend ASU over other programs, the consensus, even with his family, was that he would stay at least three seasons. Nothing happened to change his feelings for the program. Throughout the season, he has emphasized how much he loves his teammates and the college experience, he embraced the leadership role that coach Greg Powers gave him, and he embraced the heavy minutes and all-encompassing on-ice role that Powers and his staff gave him.
He also knew that the college experience was a once-in-lifetime opportunity that he would never have again after leaving.
At the same time, he didn’t want to wait too long to turn pro. Smith admitted to him in a recent conversation that if he had it to do over again, he would have turned pro earlier instead of remaining at Minnesota State.
The Coyotes development staff is not permitted to get on the ice with Doan at ASU, per NCAA rules. There are loopholes wherein he can pay his own way to attend private coaching sessions, but the opportunity to work with the Coyotes’ revamped and deep staff was enticing.
So was the opportunity to play with a talented group of players in Tucson that includes Smith, Michael Carcone, Ben McCartney, Jan Jeník, Vladislav Kolachonok, Laurent Dauphin, and could include players such as John Farinacci, or even Dylan Guenther and Cooley next season.
“Any time you can take one of your players and put them in the American League right away, get them going, it really benefits the player,” GM Bill Armstrong said. “This is going to be a huge growth step for him and I believe it’s going to pay dividends in the end.
“When we look at it with the points that he’s accumulated where he’s at, and the step [he took], then you’re thinking about that next step. We always envisioned him taking that next step into the American League, and into the NHL. So for us, we just thought he had accomplished what he needed to. ASU had done a great job with developing him. We believed his next step was to be a pro hockey player.”
There is belief within the Coyotes development staff that Doan still needs to get bigger and stronger, work on his skating and drive play more consistently — things that he might have been able to do with one more season in college — but the AHL also offers long hours and opportunities for development, given its typical schedule of playing games only on weekends.
Doan practiced with the Roadrunners on Thursday and he headed back to Tucson after the Coyotes’ game against the Canucks at Mullett Arena on Thursday evening. This assignment offers him the opportunity to work with Steve Potvin, who coached Doan with the Jr. Coyotes, but it also allows him to work with the rest of the coaching staff in Tucson, to work with skating coach Lars Hepso, to work with skills coach Kyle Bochek, and to work with Lee Stempniak, Nathaniel Brooks and Jeff Shantz — the forwards-focused part of the development staff.
Doan got off to a slow start this season at ASU as he adapted to playing heavy minutes while also serving as a sophomore captain to a mostly young team, but also a team with players older than him.
“It’s a short season for college so when you start off slow you don’t really get the chance to carry on and catch up, where if we were playing another 30 games this year, I feel like I’d push the envelope to kind of catch some people,” he said previously.
“Early on, I focused on defense a lot for my individual game. It kind of changes the game and we played some hard teams early on. When you don’t get confidence early, it’s hard to kind of bounce back. You start to fight it and grip your stick a little tighter. A couple have gone in now and I kind of feel like I’m back to that feeling of confidence where I’m producing every night.”
Powers saw that confidence in Doan’s game down the stretch.
“When he plays like he knows he’s better than everybody, he’s better than everybody,” Powers said. “It’s just an inner confidence and belief.
“He’s playing with pace. He’s moving his feet. When he just is relentless and refuses to lose his stick battles, he doesn’t lose any. He’s just so heavy on his stick. The sky’s the limit for him and he’s having a heck of a run here.”
Doan completed his two-year ASU career with 28 goals and 75 points in 74 games. He is the highest NHL draft pick in Sun Devil hockey history.
Top photo of Josh Doan via Getty Images
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As an aging athlete who dedicated my life to training and competing, ( a mediocre competitor ha) I applaud Doan for moving on getting paid for what he does.
He can always go back to college and prepare himself for the 9 to 5.
I was 25 my freshman year of college. Didn’t hurt a bit emotionally or financially.
Most importantly, it’s good that he doesn’t take any chances getting injured playing the starving collegiate athlete role.
You gotta strike while the iron his hot!!
This is one time that letting an athlete bake a little while in Tucson is the right answer.
I think college athletes should be paid. The same as the pros, especially if they’re image is used to sell gear, tickets or whatever
They make coaches and schools rich, it’s the American way.
Ironically many of my fellow conservatives don’t feel this way and I find that odd.
It’s ironic that I benefited financially in my sport better than most pros in my sport but running and track and field are different from the team sports.
That’s a debate for a different comment board ha
I have no problem with them getting paid. The problem for me comes in where the money is sourced and how that impacts national coverage, awards, tourneys etc. Deep pocketed schools buy successful teams always have always will, just like in the pros. In the end it ruins the product as the brand loyalties switch too often and smaller schools stand no chance at top recruits. Some kind of balance is needed for parity which makes it better as a whole in the long run. What that balance is I have no idea.