Sharks' Smith excited to join forces with Celebrini in NHL

Sharks' Smith excited to join forces with Celebrini in NHL originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Will Smith officially is a San Jose Shark after signing an entry-level contract with the team on Tuesday.

He soon will be joined by San Jose's presumed No. 1 overall selection in the 2024 NHL Draft, Boston University star Macklin Celebrini, who Smith played against during his time at Boston College.

In speaking to reporters on a conference call Tuesday after his contract became official, Smith explained why he decided to sign with the Sharks instead of returning to college for one more season.

"Obviously it was a really tough decision because just how much I loved BC," Smith said. "Obviously my teammates there we had a really special bond and honestly before I left for [the IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championship] I made up in my mind I was going to sign and I wanted to make sure I did it at the right time and especially with my family."

Smith is familiar with Celebrini's game after the two battled it out in the fierce Boston College-Boston University rivalry and is looking forward to potentially joining forces with him on the Sharks.

"It would be fun, obviously," Smith shared. "Got to see him more than a couple times this year. He's a great player and he's a BU guy, but obviously, if the Sharks pick him it would be pretty fun."

Smith, Celebrini (presumably), fellow 2023 first-rounder Quentin Musty and third-year wing William Eklund are expected to form the next homegrown Sharks core, and the 19-year-old is excited to build something alongside his young teammates.

"It feels pretty good for people to say that," Smith said about the possibility of forming a foundational duo with Celebrini. "Obviously, it's a huge opportunity for us. Obviously, Macklin is projected to go first and the guys that were already drafted and the team that is there now it could be -- if and when he gets picked -- it would be awesome to help this team take the next step and obviously get back to where the Sharks were."

Smith told reporters his goal is to make the Sharks' NHL roster to begin the season, but is open to playing with the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL if the team decides that is best for his development.

If San Jose does select Celebrini with the No. 1 overall pick, it remains to be seen if the prized prospect will return to Boston University or attempt to make the leap to the NHL. Regardless of what Celebrini decides, Smith is excited to help lead the Sharks into the future.