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Will Smith to make the jump to San Jose this summer
Credit: Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Normally, when a big National League prospect makes the jump from an American college, it’s done once the player’s NCAA team is eliminated.

What’s the point? To burn up a year’s contract.

Note that this doesn’t make the player an unrestricted free agent any faster… but the second contract is signed faster, which logically gives more money while waiting for full autonomy.

When we saw that Will Smith, the fourth overall pick in the last auction, had chosen not to sign with the Sharks in recent weeks, we assumed that he would be going back to college in Boston.

After all, that was the basic plan, and his friends (Ryan Leonard and Gabriel Perreault) will also be returning to play in the NCAA.

But now, according to journalist Sheng Peng, who covers Sharks activities for San Jose Hockey Now and is a member of the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers Association), Smith has decided to make the jump this fall.

According to the journalist, the prospect would sign an entry-level contract this summer with the Sharks organization.

Why didn’t you sign him in April? Considering he had a fire season in the NCAA, we can assume it wasn’t because the Sharks suddenly changed their minds a month later.

Logically, it’s because the player changed his mind.

Presumably, seeing the Sharks win the 2024 draft lottery changed Smith’s plans. After all, Macklin Celebrini is expected to make the jump from the NCAA to the NHL this year.

Seeing the two play together no doubt weighed in the balance.

Remember that Smith was a big target for Kent Hughes (who knows the youngster well) and was drafted right after Connor Bedard, Leo Carlsson and Adam Fantilli. The first three picks of 2023 played in the NHL last year.

The Habs drafted David Reinbacher fifth overall, and he’s likely to start next season in Laval.


– There’s a lot of talk.

– History repeats itself in 2021, but with the other knee.

– The Voltigeurs have no room for error.

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