LAS VEGAS — Macklin Celebrini was the No. 1 overall choice at the NHL draft on Friday, going swiftly off the board to the San Jose Sharks.

The 18-year-old center projected to be the draft’s No. 1 selection following a celebrated freshman season at Boston University. Celebrini became, at just 17 years old, the youngest winner of the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top skater. He produced 32 goals and 64 points in 38 games for the Terriers.

Celebrini — clocking in at 6-foot and just shy of 200 pounds — was second in college scoring, failing to notch at least one point in only six games.

Just four other freshman — Paul Kariya, Jack Eichel and Adam Fantilli — had won a Hobey Baker Award. That same season, Celebrini was the Hockey East Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and scoring champion.

“Just a surreal feeling, I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid,” Celebrini told ESPN after the former Sharks center Joe Thornton made the selection for the franchise.

Celebrini is a quintessential two-way skater, with excellent speed and a lethal shot that’s made him a dominant threat at every level of his career. An ability to dial in defensively and battle for pucks has set Celebrini apart and made him a coveted addition who is ready to join NHL ranks immediately.

Prior to joining the college ranks, Celebrini spent the 2022-23 season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel, where he led the Steel to an Eastern Conference finals berth with 46 goals and 86 points in 50 games.

Celebrini, who hails from North Vancouver, British Columbia, has represented Canada internationally at the 2023 U-18 championships and 2024 World Junior Championships, when he led Canada in scoring with four goals and eight points.

Having the chance to take Celebrini is a boost for San Jose, which had never picked first overall. The Sharks had a brutal season in 2023-24, finishing last with a 19-54-9 record that led to coach David Quinn being fired (and replaced by Ryan Warsofsky). Leading scorer Tomas Hertl was traded to Las Vegas in March, as clear a signal as any of how deep into the rebuilding phase San Jose truly is. Celebrini will be a gigantic part of that process — and give fans something to root for as it rolls along.

Sharks general manager Mike Grier had played coy earlier in the week leading up to Friday’s first round about who San Jose might choose, telling reporters, “we’ll see what comes Friday night,” but it was clear Celebrini was a slam-dunk for the Sharks.

“When you sit down with him for two minutes, you really feel his drive and competitiveness,” Grier said last week. “It just seeps out of him. He’s a driven kid. He’s an alpha.”

Celebrini has ties to the Bay area — and the Sharks organization — something that should make for a seamless transition. His father, Rick, moved their family to California in 2018 when he became the Golden State Warriors vice president of health and performance. That allowed Celebrini to play a season with the junior Sharks program, and his family still has a home nearby to where the Sharks are situated.

At No. 2 overall, the Chicago Blackhawks selected Artyom Levshunov, 18, a defenseman who played for the Michigan State Spartans last season. Blackhawks star Connor Bedard, who was selected as the league’s top rookie, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy Thursday, made the selection for the franchise.

At No. 3, the Anaheim Ducks selected Beckett Sennecke, 18, a right wing who played in the Ontario Hockey League last season.

The Sharks also selected at No. 11 in the first round, drafting defenseman Sam Dickinson, who played in the Ontario Hockey League last season, scoring 18 goals.

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