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Prospect Update: William Francis
By Thomas Harrington
A sixth round pick from 2019, defenseman William Francis returned to playing hockey this past season after missing all of the 2020-2021 season with leukemia.
Francis finally got his NCAA career started this past season, playing for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He only played in five games and was scoreless. However, given all that he has gone through in recent years, playing in five games was a huge accomplishment for him. He had one shot on goal and three blocked shots in those five games.
Francis attended Anaheim’s development camp this summer, four days after he completed his final round of chemotherapy. It was a chance for him to get to know his fellow Anaheim prospects and to get a good idea of what the organization wants from him going forward. He’s a very strong and fit athlete and it sounds like the Ducks were very happy with where he is, especially given everything that he’s gone through.
I have one expectation for Francis this coming season, to just play as much hockey as possible. Whether that’s only a couple of games, five games again, or more, I just want to see Francis get into the lineup and play hockey again. Between a major knee injury and leukemia, he’s missed a ton of time and any time he’s on the ice and playing is a major victory for him.
As a sixth round pick, Francis was already a long shot to make the NHL. Throw in a major injury and leukemia, and that road has gotten even longer. Right now, his focus isn’t on making it to the NHL, it’s just getting his playing career back on track. If he can do that and become an important defenseman for Minnesota-Duluth, then maybe he’ll get signed to an entry-level contract when his NCAA is over.
Francis is unsigned and will stay that way until his college career is over. The Ducks own his rights through August 2024. Right now, I don’t anticipate him signing with Anaheim, but if he does, I’ll be very happy for him. Depending on how things go, he could end up signing an AHL only deal with San Diego. A few late round picks by Anaheim have done that over the past few years, and that feels like a more realistic option for him at this point in time.
The next prospect update will be on Axel Andersson.
Prospect Update: Blake McLaughlin
Prospect Update: Gage Alexander
Prospect Update: Jackson LaCombe
Prospect Update: Bryce Kindopp
Prospect Update: Brayden Tracey
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September 8th, 2022