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Prospect Update: William Francis
By Thomas Harrington
A sixth-round pick from the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, William Francis likely had the most difficult season of anyone in Anaheim’s organization.
Francis played for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL last season. He only played in 10 games and scored one goal and four points. If he had played the entire season, he probably would have bettered the two goals and 10 points in 59 games that he had in the 2018-2019 season. After playing in 10 games, he tore his meniscus in practice while shooting a one-timer. At that point, his season was done.
However, the bad season for Francis didn’t stop there. After the new year, he started attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he was supposed to play this season. While there, he started feeling fatigued and was diagnosed with leukemia in mid-March, right before everything was shut down by the pandemic.
If the NCAA does play hockey this season, Francis will not be on the ice. His goal is to return to action in the 2021-2022 season. He’s committed to his school and his team. When Francis does return to the ice, he’ll have a lot of work to do to get back to where he was before his meniscus injury. However, that doesn’t matter. What will be far more important is that he’ll be healthy enough to play hockey again, that he’ll have his life back on track. Hopefully, he’s able to do that, but it will be some time before we see Francis on the ice again.
Even without the knee injury and leukemia diagnosis, Francis would be a number of years away from making it to the NHL. However, by missing essentially two seasons of development, he’ll have a tough road to get to the NHL. I’m always hoping every Anaheim prospect will make their way to the NHL, but there’s no question now, Francis is the Anaheim prospect that I’m cheering for the most to get there. This kid has been through a hellish year and still has a ways to go before he even sets foot on the ice again. It won’t be any time soon, but I’m hoping that we see him in an Anaheim uniform several years down the line.
Francis is currently unsigned, and he’ll stay that way for some time. Once he returns to the ice and proves that he can play again, then the Ducks may consider signing him, but I expect he’s going to play as much as he’s allowed to in college before signing any kind of contract. The extra development time at Minnesota-Duluth will hopefully help him in his quest to get to the NHL someday.
The next prospect update will be on Benoit-Olivier Groulx.
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November 30th, 2020