IRVINE, Calif. -- When Henry Thrun heard his name called by the Anaheim Ducks at the 2019 NHL Draft last weekend in Vancouver, memories of a childhood friend immediately came to his mind. That's because less than 24 hours before Thrun was plucked in the fourth round (101st overall), the Ducks selected his close friend and former U.S. National Team Development Program teammate Trevor Zegras with the ninth overall pick.
"That was super cool," Thrun says, standing inside the lavish new Ducks locker room at Great Park Ice & FivePoint Arena in Irvine. "'Z' was drafted on the first day, so on the second day when I realized my name was called by Anaheim, I immediately thought of Trev. We met up in the suite after. It was a pretty special experience. To know we're going to the same NHL organization is a pretty cool dream."
Both grew up in the Northeast - Thrun from Southborough, Massachusetts and Zegras from Bedford, New York - and played against each other for many years before they joined forces at the NTDP. So having a familiar face at Ducks development camp has so far made the transition as smooth as it can be.
This is Thrun's first visit to California - his first look at what could be his home someday. First impressions, he says, have been overwhelmingly positive. "It's beautiful," he says with a smile. "We got to see a little bit of sunshine when we got here. Experienced the beach a little bit. I've loved it so far. The Ducks organization has been excellent. I love California so far."
Thrun is one of 30 players at development camp this year, which focuses on both the on-ice and off-ice development of the organization's top young prospects. It also gives the players a chance to meet (and work with) Ducks coaches and staff, as well as receive personally tailored nutritional recommendations and be tested for strength thresholds, range of movement and aerobic capacity. It's a brand new experience for the 18-year-old defenseman, who will be attending Harvard University in the fall.
"To get here in Anaheim and go through camp is pretty special," Thrun says. "Seeing the coaches and guys you see on TV all the time, and some of the players here. It's starting to [sink] in a little bit, realizing I was drafted. It was a pretty cool experience, and I'm fortunate to be going through it right now."
Though he likes living in the moment, day by day, Thrun has goals for the long term. "At the end of the day, this is just the beginning," he says. "There is a lot more work to come. It's cool to get drafted, but this is just the start of the work. There are a lot of guys who want to make the team, so I told myself I'd keep improving and work on my development. There's no rush for me. My dream is to play in the NHL, so however I get here is how I get here."
Once development camp wraps up, Thrun says he'll return to Massachusetts to hone his other craft - fishing. "It's something I've done for a while," Thrun says, noting the Cape Cod Canal as one of his go-to spots. "My dad taught me how to do it. It's kind of my getaway from the rink in the summers."