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Sharks: Macklin Celebrini to join a (very) strong group of young forwards
Credit: Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s been a few hours since the NHL lottery ended. In the end, as expected, the Sharks got the first pick, and no team moved.

The famous “leak” this afternoon, which placed the Utah team in second place, was therefore false. It wasn’t necessarily a surprise when you know how the process works, but it circulated nonetheless.

We note in particular that the top-6 will be made up of the same six teams as last year. The only difference is that the Sharks, who were drafted fourth last year, will be drafted first. The Blackhawks, Ducks and Blue Jackets have dropped one place, while the Habs and Utah (who were in Arizona last year) have retained their positions.

On the other hand, we’ve talked about the targets for the Habs’ pick and the Senators’ situation… but the Sharks deserve to be talked about too.

With Macklin Celebrini joining a group of young forwards that already includes Will Smith, Quentin Musty, William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, David Edström and Mike Hoffman Filip Bystedt, it’s clear that the Sharks already have a lot of talent up front.

In recent weeks, the idea of the Blackhawks snapping up Celebrini to recreate a Toews/Kane duo has been the talk of the town, but with Celebrini and Smith, the Sharks will have two very solid center forwards to build around.

Add in all the other forwards previously mentioned, and the club’s top-6 won’t be a problem for a long time (if everyone reaches their full potential, of course).

And that’s not even counting the fact that the club also has the 14th pick in the draft by virtue of the trade that sent Erik Karlsson to Pittsburgh. The Sharks can add another forward with this pick, or solidify their defensive brigade, which isn’t as well-stocked as the forward group.

The other great thing about Celebrini heading to San Jose is that he’s almost a “local” player for the Sharks. The kid hails from Vancouver (which isn’t far from California), but played for the Sharks Junior when he was 14.

There are people in the organization who almost consider him a “local talent”, at least.

What’s not such a great story, however, is that for the second year in a row, it’s a team that tanked hard that is rewarded with the first pick. The lottery system is designed to avoid such situations, but after the Blackhawks last year (who moved up two spots, but sold their team aggressively), the Sharks are rewarded for the same reason a year later.

In 2021-22, the Habs finished last and got the first pick, but that was mainly because their entire core was dismantled at once with injuries to Carey Price and Shea Weber (and almost the entire team during the season) and the departure of Phillip Danault. The context wasn’t the same, let’s say.

In fact, seeing Chicago get Connor Bedard last year and seeing San Jose get Celebrini this year is likely to encourage teams to tank even more. And in the end, it’s the NHL that’s going to pay the price, because it’s going to create teams that won’t be competitive… given that the strategy works.

Obviously, there’s no simple solution to such a complicated problem… but the Sharks played by the rules anyway, so it’s hard to blame them.

And at least Celebrini seems happy to be playing there. We wish him success with the many young forwards in town… and with the millions of dollars that will be paid to players who no longer play in town in the coming years.

In bursts

– Still.

– A mock draft in which the Habs go down to the draft… to take Tij Iginla.

Oh boy.

– Love this.

Not strong.

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