Duncan Shin hopes journey through Minnesota, WHL leads to NHL

Chandler’s Duncan Shin was drafted in the second round of the inaugural WHL U.S. Prospects draft by the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. (Photo courtesy of Laurant Dick)

TEMPE – Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Jack Johnson all had something in common before becoming hockey superstars. The trio are alumni of the prestigious Shattuck-Saint Mary’s school and hockey program in Minnesota. Duncan Shin, a 15-year-old from Chandler, Arizona, attends the elite school where those players once roamed and is following in their skates.

The dream of every young hockey player is to make it to the National Hockey League. Shin’s dream moved a step closer on March 25, when he was selected by the Vancouver Giants out of the Western Hockey League with the 38th pick in the inaugural WHL U.S. Prospects draft.

“We were thrilled that he was still there in the second round,” said Daryl Anning, the scouting director for the Vancouver Giants.

“I was just incredibly honored as there is so much talent in the western region of the United States,” Shin said.

Shin learned to skate around the age of 4, picked up a stick a few years later and, despite Arizona’s burgeoning hockey culture, was barely a teen when he decided to move halfway across the country to take his skills to the next level.

“I just wanted to go to the best possible place for my development and Shattuck-Saint Mary’s is universally known as a very elite hockey school not only for their hockey but their academics as well,” Shin said.

Shattuck-Saint Mary’s has a strong tradition of bringing top talent into their hockey program. The “Shads” 2020 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in 58 games for the U14 team, Shin had 25 goals and 40 assists along with 18 penalty minutes.

The team had three games left on its schedule and was then slated to play in the USA Hockey Nationals in Chicago.

Although Shin still has much to learn before leaving Shattuck-Saint Mary’s, Anning said one of the things that intrigued the Giants organization when they were scouting the Arizona youngster was his hockey IQ.

“He’s a very mature young man,” Anning said. “In conjunction with his high skill level (that) makes him an exciting type of player.”

Christian Bragnalo, Shattuck-Saint Mary’s bench boss, had high praises for Shin, noting he always had a smile on his face when he came to the rink and was an excellent student in the classroom.

“He was just a big contributor,” Bragnalo said. “Played on the power-play and played penalty kill. Scored some big goals for us. Played in our end really well.”

Shin compares his style of play to Trevor Zegras, who was drafted last year by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the NHL entry draft. Zegras played for the U.S. National Under 17 and 18 teams before playing at Boston University this past winter.

“My strongest attributes I contribute to my team is my passing abilities and my abilities to set up other players for quality scoring chances,” Shin said.

Shin has yet to sign a contract with the Vancouver Giants organization, He and his family are weighing all of his options to best suit his development moving forward.

“The college route, the CHL route and the junior’s route are all viable options to get to my ultimate goal in the NHL,” Shin said. “We take it season by season and year by year. I’m grateful for the Vancouver Giants that I secured a viable option en route to the NHL.”

Playing in an elite program like Shattuck-Saint Mary’s, Shin has the eyes of scouts and will return for another season before potentially moving onto the Vancouver Giants organization or pick a different route that would help further his development as a player and as a student.

“Duncan and his family are keeping their options open,” Anning said. “He’s got all kinds of options at this point. They are viewing him as a 15-year-old kid that’s got a number of options available to him and a bright future. They want to make sure they pick the right path for him and I’m sure any decision they make in the near future will be well thought out.”

Sports Reporter, Phoenix