NHL Draft

Sharks select center Will Smith with No. 4 pick in 2023 draft

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After missing out on the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, the Sharks used the No. 4 overall pick in Wednesday's 2023 NHL Draft on 18-year-old American center Will Smith.

Smith, a 6-foot, 180-pound skater from Massachusetts, spent this past season playing for the U.S. National Under 18 team, where he racked up 51 goals and 76 assists (127 points) in 60 games.

While Smith figures to be a key piece of the Sharks' rebuild, he is committed to playing the 2023-24 season at Boston College.

The Sharks were eyeing several different players at No. 4, but Leo Carlsson and Adam Fantilli were picked by the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets, respectively, ahead of San Jose's pick.

Here's what San Jose Hockey Now's Sheng Peng wrote in his NHL mock draft this week, regarding the Sharks possibly picking Smith:

"While Matvei Michkov is tempting here, there are obviously a lot of questions surrounding him, in terms of when he’ll be able to come over to North America," Peng wrote. "Smith is a safer pick in that regard, but still owns top-of-the-lineup offensive upside."

The Sharks finished the 2022-23 NHL season with a 22-44-16 record, fourth-worst in the league, and they are turning their attention to the future. After trading Timo Meier during the season, reigning Norris Trophy Award winner Erik Karlsson appears to be the next player to be dealt away.

Smith joins a Sharks prospect group featuring William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau, but San Jose fans will have to wait for him to play in the organization.

Smith, who shares his name with the actor, walked to the podium at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. with "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" playing in the building. After his pick was announced, he spoke to ESPN's Emily Kaplan and she put him on the spot, asking him to sing the song.

San Jose also owns the No. 26 overall pick in the first round, acquired in the Meier trade with New Jersey.

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