Macklin Celebrini

Celebrini details challenges of facing Sharks top prospect Smith

NBC Universal, Inc.

Macklin Celebrini, who is all but guaranteed to be the Sharks' selection with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, is quite familiar with San Jose's current top prospect Will Smith.

Smith, whom the Sharks selected No. 4 in the 2023 NHL Draft, has squared off with Celebrini on a handful of occasions over the last few years, including four matchups between their collegiate squads last season.

In speaking to reporters at the 2024 NHL Scouting Combine, Celebrini was asked about competing against Smith, with the presumed No. 1 overall pick offering a light-hearted but blunt assessment of the epic battles with his potential future teammate.

"It wasn't very fun," Celebrini told reporters with a grin on his face. "He's a special player. I played against him for the last three or four years, so I've seen a lot of him. He's a great player, super shifty, super smooth. Every time we went up against him, he lit us up. He's a great player."

During an exclusive interview with NBC Sports California contributor Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now, Celibrini detailed the toughest aspect of facing off with Smith.

"He always makes things happen," Celebrini told Peng. "I think his stats from this year speak for themselves. He had, [what], 71 points this year? Every time he was on the ice he always made something happen; he was always dangerous. I feel like that was one thing that was really difficult about him to play against.

"He completes the plays you don't think he'll complete."

Celebrini's Boston University Terriers faced Smith's Boston College Eagles four times during the 2023-34 NCAA Men's D-1 Hockey season. While both enjoyed individual success, Smith's numbers were jarring, scoring five goals and recording four assists in those four matchups.

After years of fierce competition, Celebrini now has the opportunity to join forces with Smith, and potentially terrorize opposing teams for years to come as the pair spearhead the Sharks' rebuild, with San Jose attempting to return among the NHL's elite.

Download and follow the San Jose Hockey Now podcast

Contact Us