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Basketball ties aside, Macklin Celebrini focused on hockey as presumptive No. 1 pick of NHL draft | Sport

Basketball ties aside, Macklin Celebrini focused on hockey as presumptive No. 1 pick of NHL draft |  Sport
Basketball ties aside, Macklin Celebrini focused on hockey as presumptive No. 1 pick of NHL draft |  Sport

 


With a father who works for the Golden State Warriors and former NBA star Steve Nash for an uncle, college hockey player of the year and the presumptive No. 1 NHL draft pick Macklin Celebrinlikes to think he has game.

“I think it's pretty good,” Celebrini said, referring to his basketball skills, before acknowledging that his father, Rick, might be a better judge. Every time I play and he watches, he says, 'I'm a hockey player and I play basketball.'

Celebrini will even readily admit his shortcomings, shaking his head when asked how he'll fare against Steph Curry, saying, “No, I don't think that would go over very well.”

Curry, Draymond Green and the rest of the NBA can breathe easy.

Standing just under six feet tall and nearly 200 pounds, Celebrini isn't about to quit what is expected to be a successful and lucrative professional hockey job in preparation for the next step in his ascension on Friday, when the first round of the NHL draft begins. at The Sphere in Las Vegas.

The San Jose Sharks are No. 1 and have already indicated they want to pick the center. Celebrini represents the next important building block for a team that's five seasons gone without a playoff berthwith the added bonus of a homecoming of sorts.

Although a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Celebrini spent time in the Bay Area playing for the Junior Sharks after his father relocated the family in 2018 after being hired as the team's vice president of player health and performance Warriors.

It's the same role Rick Celebrini previously held in Vancouver with the NHL's Canucks and the MLS's Whitecaps, giving his son an indelible behind-the-scenes look at professional sports. As much as Celebrini hoped his son would follow in his footsteps by playing football, he knew early on how much hockey meant to Macklin.

He showed an affinity when he was very, very young, Celebrini said. When he was four or five years old, just the determination and love he had for it, and just the passion. You could tell that, and I've said this a number of times, he was born to be a hockey player.

Freshman stars at Boston University

Celebrini is coming off a celebrated freshman season at Boston University, where college hockey's youngest player last season, turning 18 earlier this month, finished second in the nation with 32 goals and third with 64 points in 38 games. He became the fourth freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey MVP, while also earning Hockey East player and rookie of the year honors.

“I think we had a pretty good feeling he was going to be pretty good,” Terriers coach and former NHL forward Jay Pandolfo said.

To actually be able to deal with that pressure and keep getting better is not easy, Pandolfo added. You could see it from Day 1 when he stepped onto campus and onto the ice where he was going to do what he does as a player. And that is very impressive. There was no intimidation for him at all.

Celebrini failed to record a point in just six games. His production accelerated in the second half of the season, combining for 22 goals and 39 points in his final 17 games and helping the Terriers reach the Frozen Four, which they lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Denver.

I'm not a fan of the term generational-type player and that, or putting labels on it, Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, said of Celebrini. But you can just see in these elite kids where they have that unique and rare ability to thrive as they compete with consistency and passion for every challenge. Their skills and smarts just kick in, and he's done it again.

Decisions decisions

The only question that remains is whether Celebrini will turn pro or return to BU for a second season.

I believe he is ready to play at the National Hockey League level. He is physically mature and mentally mature, said Pandfolfo, who is among those serving as a sounding board for the player.

I could argue either way and honestly I don't think he will make the wrong decision, Pandolfo said, before laughing and adding that he will not reject Celebrini if ​​he decides to stay.

Celebrini is not rushing into a decision, but says he wants to enjoy the preliminary design process. While he was excited by the prospect of going to San Jose, Celebrini said he would be grateful to join any team that selects him.

Sharks GM Mike Grier, a former Terrier, soon envisioned where Celebrini would fit into his lineup the NHL revealed that San Jose had won the draft lottery.

The exciting thing is that he knows the area. His family has a home 30 minutes away, Grier said. It's a big day for the organization. It was a difficult year for the fans and the team. … So this is a great award for what we have experienced this year.


AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.


AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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