Top overall pick Macklin Celebrini debuts at Sharks development camp; his NHL decision ‘coming up’

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Macklin Celebrini knows he has a big decision looming.

The No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft last week made his Sharks debut Tuesday morning at the team’s development camp. Whether he plays for San Jose this upcoming season or returns to Boston University for his sophomore season is to be determined.

“It’s coming up,” Celebrini said. “I’ll make the decision pretty quick here. Just trying to enjoy this camp, and after that I guess it’s time to make a decision.”

The 18-year-old Celebrini impressed the dozens of fans in attendance at Sharks Ice in San Jose with his effortless skating ability, masterful stick-handling and a lightning-quick release on his shot.

“Really good,” said John McCarthy, head coach of the Sharks’ AHL affiliate San Jose Barracuda. “He was super competitive on pucks. I thought that’s what stood out to me the most.”

Afterward, Celebrini spent several minutes signing autographs for fans.

“It’s nice to be wanted,” he said. “It’s been good. They were out there supporting today. From everything I’ve heard, they are some of the best fans in the league. I’m excited to start playing in front of them.”

Celebrini had 32 goals and 32 assists in 38 games as a freshman at BU last season, becoming the youngest winner of the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in college hockey.

The Sharks made him their first-ever No. 1 overall draft choice last Friday at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

“I think he is a mature kid,” McCarthy said. “I know a lot of people (at Boston University), and talking to them about him, as impressive as he is as a player and his skill level, they’re equally as impressed as a person. The way that he carries himself, the way that he goes about his business, it’s high end, which is why he went first overall.”

A native of North Vancouver, Celebrini moved to Northern California in 2018 at the age of 12 when his father, Rick, became the Golden State Warriors director of sports medicine and performance. He played with the Junior Sharks U-14 team in 2019.

The elder Celebrini still works for the Warriors, now as the vice president of player health and performance, while Macklin is excited to be back in the Bay Area with the Sharks.

“It’s been fun,” the younger Celebrini said. “It’s been a long process throughout the draft and stuff, but now it’s when the fun begins. You just get to skate, play hockey and just have fun with the guys.”

The Sharks are counting on Celebrini to spark a dramatic turnaround following a disappointing 2023-24 season. San Jose finished with the worst record in the NHL at 19-54-9 for a total of 47 points, their fewest since the 1995-96 season.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Celebrini said. “There’s so many players getting ready to make their debut, especially with the signings that we’ve made. It’s an exciting time.”

Celebrini will go through another day of development camp on Wednesday before the team’s annual prospect scrimmage Thursday.

Where he plays after that remains to be seen.

“I think he’s a really, really talented, really good hockey player,” McCarthy said. “As far as the other stuff, that’s kind of above me.”



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