Macklin Celebrini signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

The 18-year-old center, selected by the Sharks with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, said he made his decision to turn pro and not return ot Boston University on Friday, following the completion of San Jose prospect development camp.

"It was something I've been thinking about since the draft and something that was kind of always on my mind," Celebrini said. "Throughout the week, meeting everybody, getting a sense for how the year will go and the different things that come with that. Talking to some of the guys, I think over the week, I just kind of understood what I needed to do and the decision that I had to make.

"I tried to keep everything open until the end of the week, Friday. After my exit meetings, once I got back to the hotel, I kind of knew. That was when it really sunk in with me, that I knew what I had to do. Every time I thought about coming to the Sharks, I was just really excited."

Crew on the Sharks signing Macklin Celebrini, offseason

General manager Mike Grier said it was clear from a playing standpoint that Celebrini is NHL-ready. As the youngest player in NCAA hockey last season, he was third among all players with 64 points (32 goals, 32 assists) in 38 games as a freshman at Boston University, and won the Hobey Baker Award as the top men's player in NCAA ice hockey.

But it was off the ice where Grier viewed Celebrini as an NHL-ready person.

"I think what really pushed us over the edge was our interview and dinner with him at the [NHL Scouting] Combine, where he just showed a maturity beyond his years in his drive and his passion and his want to be a great player in this League," Grier said. "When you're around those type of players, I think you recognize that, and he kind of has that alpha mentality that made us believe he's ready to handle the ups and downs and the rigors of an NHL season."

Grier said that "alpha mentality" is something he's seen only a few times through the course of his on- and off-ice career in the NHL, mentioning teammates Doug Weight, Jaromir Jagr, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, as well as New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes from his time as a coach there, and former Chicago Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who he worked with as a Chicago pro scout.

"Those are kind of the alphas that I've been around, and Macklin has the same drive to be the best and thinks when he steps on the ice, he's not taking a backseat to anyone," Grier said. "Constantly working, constantly pushing himself and is pushing his teammates. I just think he's got that special kind of drive within."

Celebrini said it's a mentality he's had for as long as he can remember.

"I want to be the best I can be and help my team, do whatever I can to help my team win," he said. "I feel like that just kind of goes hand in hand, to be the best I can be and try to prepare myself best, is so that I can help my team win, that I can be relied upon in those moments to succeed. ... I just want to be the best I can be and I feel like I've been like that ever since I was a kid."

The Sharks finished last in the NHL last season and had the No. 1 pick for the first time, increasing expectations on Celebrini. But Grier believes San Jose's offseason moves, including the signings of forwards Tyler Toffoli and Alexander Wennberg, and claiming two-time Stanley Cup winner Barclay Goodrow off waivers from the New York Rangers, can provide a good structure for Celebrini on and off the ice.

"I don't want to put too much on his plate," Grier said. "I think that's been kind of the goal here, trying to insulate him and Will [Smith, the No. 4 pick of the 2023 NHL Draft], so they don't feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders and they have to go out and produce every single night. We'll let [Celebrini] find his way. I'm sure there'll be some ups and downs along the way but hopefully we'll have enough bodies here, enough veterans here, to kind of help him along the way.

"I'm not expecting him to go out there and be the MVP of the League or anything like that. There's going to be bumps, there's going to be ups and downs, and I'm sure he'll navigate that and we'll help him navigate those things."

Celebrini said he'll take a bit of time away from the rink but won't take too long before shifting into preparation for training camp in September, and the start of the season, against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 10.

"Everyone I've talked to, now you're playing against grown men, so it's just getting stronger, bigger, faster, just being able to protect yourself and being able to separate yourself when needed," he said. "Just keep getting stronger."

Celebrini is already creating excitement in San Jose.

"It's good for the guys in the room, and obviously for the fans as well," Grier said. "I think there's some buzz, you could even kind of feel it during the prospects scrimmage the other day. I think the guys in the room, the young players and the veterans alike, realize the special talent that Macklin is and I think there's some excitement for those guys to have the chance to play with him. For him to be coming in this year, I think everyone, all the guys, are pretty excited."

Related Content