ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Macklin Celebrini is focused on the now, and that means trying to help Boston University win the NCAA Frozen Four.  

The 2024 NHL Draft can wait.

"Yeah, I don't think I'm very focused on that," Celebrini said Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center, the site of the 2024 Frozen Four. "I mean, we got a job to do this weekend. And it's kind of cliché but everything else will take care of itself, so we're focused on Thursday, first of all, and playing the best hockey for 60 minutes and then not looking past that."

Celebrini and Boston University face Denver in the first semifinal on Thursday (5 p.m. ET; EPSN2). Boston College plays Michigan in the second semifinal (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.) The championship game is Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN).

When the weekend is over, the hype around Celebrini (6-foot, 190 pounds) ahead of the 2024 draft, reportedly at Sphere in Las Vegas on June 28-29, will get even stronger. He's the projected No. 1 pick, which is more impressive given that the 17-year-old forward is the youngest player in NCAA.

He is tied with Boston College forward and Anaheim Ducks prospect Cutter Gauthier for second in the NCAA with 64 points (32 goals, 32 assists) in 37 games. He was named rookie of the year and player of the year in Hockey East and is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2024 draft.

"It's pretty special having a guy like him on our team," said Celebrini's teammate Lane Hutson, a Montreal Canadiens defenseman prospect chosen in the second round (No. 62) of the 2022 NHL Draft. "I think when the other teams have to worry about him so much, it definitely creates chances for other guys. Not many guys can contain him, so it's pretty special having him out there and being out there with him. I think he just creates so many chances for everyone else and it's definitely really fun to play with.

"Just seeing how hard he works, how hard he competes every shift. When your most skilled guy is doing that, it makes everyone want to do it and it's easy to follow and get behind."

Celebrini, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award given to the top men's player in Division I college hockey, elected for college following the 2022-23 season with Chicago of the United States Hockey League, where he had 86 points (46 goals, 40 assists) in 50 games.

"For the last couple of years I've been thinking more and more about college hockey," Celebrini said. "I went to Chicago and felt like college hockey was the right path for me just playing against more mature, stronger players, and felt like it would help me best to develop. Obviously, we have a great coaching staff here that made it a very easy decision coming here."

Terriers coach Jay Pandolfo notes he hasn't seen too many players like Celebrini, let alone at 17 years of age.

"Just even from Day One, his maturity, his preparation, his passion for the game; he comes to the rink every day, you can tell he loves playing the game and he wants to get better," Pandolfo said. "Forget the talent he has, his talent is off the charts, but his competitiveness is second to none and that's a pretty good recipe to have.

"I'll give you this story: first day of training camp for us, he [ticked] a lot of guys off, but it was because of how competitive he is. He doesn't give anyone an edge. And he's like that every day. And for a 17-year-old to push a group of older players like that, it's pretty impressive and it says a lot about him and about his character and about how much he cares. That's why he is who he is, and it's been great to have him.

"He's a great teammate and he's coachable. He wants to be coached, he wants to be pushed and he wants to learn and he's going to be a tremendous player for a long time."

Is Pandolfo concerned that Celebrini leaves after just one season? Not at all.

"You know, maybe Macklin's one and done, maybe Lane's done -- we don't know that yet -- but it hasn't affected our group at all," Pandolfo said. "It hasn't affected our culture, at least in the short time I've been here. So I think if you bring the right type of player that's a one-and-done or two and done or whatever it may be, if they're the right type of person and they have their feet on the ground when they're here at BU, I think it makes a difference and we have those type of guys right now."

And right now, Celebrini is focusing on the now.

"It's a special opportunity for our group," said Celebrini. "We're all super excited for this opportunity. Like coach said, we're all grateful to be here, and I'm grateful to have this opportunity to perform on this stage.

"But we're not just satisfied to just be here. We want to do well here. And hopefully we can get it done this weekend."

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