Macklin Celebrini lottery

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Macklin Celebrini's time at the 2024 IIHF World Championship didn't last long, but that didn't stop the projected No. 1 pick in the 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft from leaving a lasting impression on what could soon be his opponents in the League.

The San Jose Sharks won the 2024 NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday and the right to select the 17-year-old center from Boston University. It's the first time the Sharks have the top pick after choosing No. 2 in 1991 (Pat Falloon), 1996 (Andrei Zyuzin) and 1997 (Patrick Marleau). The first round of the 2024 draft will be held at Sphere in Las Vegas on June 28. Rounds 2-7 will be June 29.

"Away from the rink, he's a true professional already," St, Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said Monday. "It's crazy. It's really cool to see from a guy that was playing in university this year. I can't say enough good things off the ice. On the ice, he's obviously a great player. We can all watch how good he is."

Celebrini was in Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary, for Worlds. He practiced with Canada and played an exhibition game, but neither he nor Columbus Blue Jackets forward Adam Fantilli made the team after several late additions to the roster. Celebrini opted to return to North America in advance of the Draft Lottery and prepare for the 2024 NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo from June 2-8.

"He seems like a very skilled player," Utah forward Jack McBain said. "Even in the one game we played, you could see his hockey IQ. You could see his skills, you could see all of his abilities, and we were all really impressed with him to be able to go out in a game like that, seeing him perform the way he did. He's going to be a great player for a long time. I know he's a great kid too.

"He blended in well. He mixed in well. He's a super nice kid. He's easy to talk to. He's a great kid. It would've been nice to get to know him a little better. I'm excited for him and what he's got coming his way."

Celebrini, the youngest player in NCAA Division I men's hockey this season, became the youngest ever to win the Hobey Baker Award, presented annually to the top NCAA men's hockey player, after finishing second with 32 goals and third with 64 points in 38 games. He also won Hockey East Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year awards, joining Jack Eichel (2015), Paul Kariya (1993) and Brian Leetch (1987) as the only players to earn both honors in the same season.

Celebrini had eight points (four goals, four assists) in five games at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship, where Canada finished fifth.

"I think he's great," said Buffalo Sabres defenseman Owen Power, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. "I followed him kind of through college a little bit this year. I heard about him, also saw him at the World Juniors. He's a special player. Even seeing him here, seeing him play and how smart and skilled he is, is cool to see. He's impressed me a lot."

Should Celebrini be selected by the Sharks, the likes of Parayko, McBain, Power and Connor Bedard would become NHL foes. The first round of the draft will set the stage for a promising future.

"I played with him when I was eight or nine years old, so I've always known him," said Bedard, chosen No. 1 by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Draft. "He's always been a really good player. He moved down to California around 12. Then, he just kept growing and kept developing. Obviously, he's a special talent. One team's going to be really lucky to get him, and he's going to dominate the League. It's exciting to kind of see his career path so far."

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