No surprise: Sharks take Celebrini No. 1 overall

LAS VEGAS — Macklin Celebrini was the No. 1 overall choice at the NHL draft on Friday, going swiftly off the board to the San Jose Sharks.

The 18-year-old center projected to be the draft’s No. 1 selection following a celebrated freshman season at Boston University. Celebrini became, at just 17 years old, the youngest winner of a Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top skater. He produced 32 goals and 64 points in 38 games for the Terriers.

Celebrini — clocking in at 6-foot and just shy of 200 pounds — was second overall in college scoring, failing to notch at least one point in only six games.

Just four other freshman — Paul Kariya, Jack Eichel and Adam Fantilli — had ever won a Hobey Baker Award. That same season Celebrini was the Hockey East Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and scoring champion.

Celebrini is a quintessential two-way skater, with excellent speed and a lethal shot that’s made him a dominant threat at every level of his career to date. An ability to dial into defensive details and battle for pucks has set Celebrini apart and made him a coveted addition who is ready to join NHL ranks immediately.

Prior to joining the college ranks, Celebrini spent the 2022-23 season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel, where he led the Steel to an Eastern Conference Finals berth with 46 goals and 86 points in 50 games.

Celebrini, who hails from North Vancouver, British Columbia, has represented Canada internationally at the 2023 U-18 championships and 2024 World Junior Championships, when he led Canada in scoring with four goals and eight points.

Having the chance to take Celebrini is a boost for San Jose, who had never picked first overall in franchise history. The Sharks had a brutal season in 2023-24, finishing last overall with a 19-54-9 record that led to coach David Quinn being fired (and subsequently replaced by Ryan Warsofsky). Leading scorer Tomas Hertl was traded to Las Vegas last March, as clear a signal as any of how deep into the rebuilding phase San Jose truly is. Celebrini will be a gigantic part of that process – and give fans something to root for as it rolls along.

Sharks general manager Mike Grier had played coy earlier in the week leading up to Friday’s first round about who San Jose might choose with their No.1 pick, telling reporters, “we’ll see what comes Friday night” but it was clear Celebrini is a slam-dunk for the Sharks.

“When you sit down with him for two minutes, you really feel his drive and competitiveness,” Grier said last week. “It just seeps out of him. He’s a driven kid. He’s an alpha.”

Celebrini certainly has ties to the Bay area — and the Sharks organization — something that should make for a seamless transition. His father, Rick, moved their family to California in 2018 when he became the Golden State Warriors vice president of health and performance. That allowed Celebrini to play a season with the junior Sharks program, and his family still has a home nearby to where the Sharks are situated.

Source link

Scroll to Top