Henry Thrun has all the makings of a 1,000-game NHL player. The former Captain of the Harvard Crimson men’s ice hockey team looks like he has spent years in the NHL despite playing eight career NHL games last season. Thrun, a former 2019 fourth-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks, made it clear to Anaheim that he didn’t intend to sign his ELC with them after his collegiate career was traded to the San Jose Sharks for a 2024 third-round pick. This is already shaping up to be a savvy move by General Manager Mike Grier.
The Sharks have lacked a true two-way defenseman for some time. They have been blessed to have two Norris Trophy winners in the last six years between Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson; neither were known for their standout defense. Thrun has a chance to be a steller in his zone and good in the offensive zone. This isn’t to say that Thrun will be racking up Norris Trophies throughout his career, but that Norris can be a great middle-pairing defenseman who can do anything you ask of him and excel in it.
The left-handed blue liner has a prototypical size at 6’2″ and 190 pounds. He can skate well and has good problem-solving abilities. His biggest strength is how calm he is under pressure. He rarely seems to make the wrong play and is willing to do whatever is asked of the coaching staff. After Thrun signed his ELC last season, Head Coach David Quinn was unafraid to play him in any situation. Thrun averaged almost 20 minutes a night and got time on the power play and the penalty kill. Quinn even selected Thrun to represent Team USA at the World Championships this summer.
Where does Thrun fit?
Henry Thrun will be part of the next generation of competitive Sharks. He just turned 22 in March and looks to be a long-term solution on the blue line. While Thrun’s roster spot on the Sharks isn’t a lock out of training camp, it will be a matter of time before Thrun is an every night NHL player. There is a logjam of NHL-caliber defensemen in front of Thrun, but his upside and long-term future with the Sharks should make him an every-night player by mid-season. There is still optimism that Thrun could be on the Sharks’ opening night and possibly the quarterback of the power play. He was given an opportunity on Sunday night’s preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights, and though the power play had expired, his fake shot and pass to a wide-open Tomas Hertl made the score 2-0.
Since the Massachusetts native signed his ELC last season, he is still waivers exempt, so it would make it easier for the Sharks (in terms of contract flexibility) to start the season with the San Jose Barracuda. On the Barracuda, he would soak up a lot of ice time with another highly touted Sharks prospect, Shakir Mukhamadullin. Despite both being left-handed shots, their play styles complement each other and would make one of the best defensive pairings the Barracuda have seen in a long time. If Grand Admiral Thrun does start on the Barracuda, don’t expect to see him there for too long, as he is an NHL-caliber player despite his age and experience.
What’s next for Thrun?
Henry Thrun does enter this season in a contract year. Since he was *extreme Taylor Swift voice* 22 when he signed his ELC, the Sharks could only offer a two-year deal per the CBA rules. He burned a year on his contract playing the eight games last year, and this now puts him as an RFA at the end of the 2023-24 season. Some fans may not be happy with burning that year of his contract, but it’s the price of doing business with college prospects to get them to either come out of college early (Thomas Bordeleau) or sign with your team. Expect Mike Grier to play the RFA game with Thrun until he fully establishes himself. If Thrun has a fantastic season, Grier could try and lock him up before his value continues to climb.
As for this season, look for Thrun to continue establishing himself as a core piece to the Sharks roster. Once in the NHL, Thrun should look to play around 20 minutes a night and be a contributor in all situations. If training camp goes well for Thrun, he could be the Sharks’ power play quarterback, as there is no obvious answer on the roster with Erik Karlsson leaving for black and golden pastures.
Bold Prediction: Henry Thrun starts the season with the Barracuda but is called up before Thanksgiving. He averages 20 minutes a night and hits the 20-point mark in his first full season.
Other Season Previews:
Alexander Barabanov Season Preview