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Celebrini signs Sharks contract, will go pro this coming season

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Macklin Celebrini's homecoming is complete.

The 18-year-old phenom signed his entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks, general manager Mike Grier announced Saturday, meaning he'll play in the NHL next season.

Celebrini officially turns pro after it was unclear if he'd return for another season at Boston University following the Sharks selecting him No. 1 overall in the 2024 NHL Draft last month.

San Jose Hockey Now's Sheng Peng was first to report the news that Celebrini would go pro.

"Macklin is not only a special player on the ice, but he is a poised, confident and intelligent young man off of it,” Grier said in a statement released by the team. “His combination of skills and hockey sense is rare, and we are extremely confident that he is ready to make the transition to being a full-time NHL player. We could not be more excited to have Macklin locked in to formally join the Sharks organization for the 2024-25 season."

Celebrini's arrival invites palpable excitement about the Sharks' future after they capped a rough five-year spell with an abysmal 2023-24 season. He dominated the college game as a 17-year-old, taking home Hobey Baker Memorial Award honors as the NCAA's top player after he recorded 64 points (32 goals, 32 assists) and a plus-25 rating in 38 games for BU.

Celebrini received a taste of the Sharks' passionate fan base during this week's development camp in San Jose, and he praised the support he and his teammates received.

“It’s nice to be wanted,” Celebrini said. “They [Sharks fans] were out there supporting today. From everything I’ve heard, they’re some of the best fans in the league. So, I’m excited to start playing in front of them.”

It's not Celebrini's first time in a Sharks sweater, though. He played for the Jr. Sharks during the 2019-20 season and collected 94 points (49 goals, 45 assists) in 54 games with the 14-and-under team.

With Celebrini officially signed to an NHL contract, San Jose will have its two top prospects next season, as 2023 No. 4 overall pick Will Smith made his transition to the pros official in May.

After the young centers had strong performances in Thursday's prospect scrimmage, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the Sharks' long-term outlook, as the proud franchise seeks to regain its foothold among the NHL's elite.

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