San Jose Sharks sign Macklin Celebrini to entry level contract

San Jose Sharks sign Macklin Celebrini to entry level contract

SAN JOSE – The San Jose Sharks signaled the start of a new era in the franchise’s 33-year Saturday, announcing the signing of center Macklin Celebrini — the first-overall selection in the 2024 NHL Draft — to a three-year, entry-level contract.

“Macklin is not only a special player on the ice, but he is a poised, confident, and intelligent young man off of it,” San Jose Sharks general manager Mike Grier said in a statement. “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.”

The announcement Saturday ended any speculation that Celebrini, this past season’s Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey’s top player, might return to Boston University for his sophomore season. As the youngest player in NCAA Division I, Celebrini, in 38 games for Boston University. had 64 points with a plus-25 rating as a 17-year-old freshman.

As a freshman, Celebrini finished second in the NCAA in points-per-game (1.68, trailing only current teammate Will Smith at 1.73), ranked second in goals, and was third in points.

Given what Celebrini had already accomplished and how he mastered the college level, there was little left for him to prove at the college level.

Celebrini mentioned earlier this week that he would announce his decision shortly after the team’s development camp, which ended Thursday.

Of his development camp experience, Celebrini this week said, “It’s been amazing. Actually getting here and putting names to faces and really creating that relationship is really cool. Creating that relationship with the fans as well, it’s really exciting.”

All indications were that Celebrini was ready to turn pro, as his work and maturity on and off the ice left a positive impression on everyone he met inside the Sharks organization.

“The first thing that I noticed is that he wants to be first in everything,” said Sharks’ director of development Todd Marchant on Thursday. “He’s leading his group right away. He’s first in line. Then you see him on the ice, and he’s first in the drills.

“Those things you don’t teach. I can’t go to a player and say, ‘Hey, you should be first in line.’ They just instinctively have that, right?”

Since the Sharks won the draft lottery in early May, Celebrini and his father, Warriors director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini, wanted to see how the organization would shore up its lineup to give the teenage centerman, a former Jr. Shark, the best chance at success early in his NHL career.

The Sharks have taken steps to try and do just that.

The Sharks signed Will Smith, the team’s other top prospect, to an entry-level contract in late May and acquired forwards Barclay Goodrow, Carl Grundstrom, and Ty Dellandrea last month. On Monday, the first day of NHL free agency, the Sharks signed winger Tyler Toffoli and center Alexander Wennberg to multi-year contracts.

Macklin Celebrini took note of those additions, saying Tuesday that, “Those guys have been around the game for so long, and between those two, they have a lot of NHL games. So being able to learn from those guys and have them around the locker room definitely helps.”

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