Prospect Update: William Francis

Photo: William Francis IG

By Thomas Harrington

Anaheim’s first sixth round pick from 2019, defenseman William Francis, has completed his second season of NCAA hockey.

Francis has had a difficult time since being drafted. He missed the entirety of the 2020-2021 season and returned to hockey in the 2021-2022 season, playing in five games for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Given how much he went through, playing five games that season was a massive accomplishment for him. This past season, he played in 28 games and recorded one assist. He picked up his only point against St. Cloud State in March.

I had one expectation for Francis this past season, and he passed it with flying colors: to play as much hockey as possible. He’s dealt with a major injury and leukemia, and I just wanted him to see the ice as much as possible this past season. Going from five games to 28 games is a huge step up for the young defenseman. He missed only nine games all season.

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I have two expectations for Francis this coming season. First, to once again play in a majority of Minnesota-Duluth’s games. He probably won’t play in every game, but if he misses less than 10 games again, I’ll be satisfied. Second, for him to pick up at least two points. He’s a player not known for his offensive contributions and will never put up a ton of points going forward, but it would be great to see him get a few more points this season.

Sixth round picks rarely make it to the NHL, and Francis’ path to the NHL has been more difficult than most. The good news is that he’s played hockey for the past two years, and he played in significantly more this past season. He’s still an incredible long shot to make it to the NHL some day, but if he can have two more solid seasons of hockey, maybe he’ll get signed to an entry-level contract. More likely, he gets signed to a minor league only deal, but given what he’s been through, that would still be a huge accomplishment for him.

Francis is currently unsigned and will be until the conclusion of his college career. The Ducks currently control his rights until the summer of 2025. At this point, I don’t think the Ducks will sign him before that time. If he plays well enough over the next two years, maybe he’ll end up in San Diego on an AHL-only deal, but that remains to be seen.

The next prospect update will be on forward Artyom Galimov.

Related Articles:

Graduated Prospect: Mason McTavish

Prospect Update: Noah Warren

Prospect Update: Vyacheslav Buteyets

Prospect Update: Blake McLaughlin

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July 28th, 2023


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