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Preview/Lines #45: The Match for Macklin, Vlasic on Vlasic

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Credit: Cadey Spencer (courtesy Boston University)

It’s the first match-up this season between the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks, the presumptive favorites to land the first-overall pick of the 2024 Draft.

The 10-31-3 Sharks have an NHL-worst 23 points, while the 12-29-2 Blackhawks, who just lost star rookie Connor Bedard for 6-8 weeks because of a fractured jaw, have the second-worst record in the league with 26 points.

If the Draft lottery happened today, San Jose would have a 25.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick, Chicago 13.5, and third-worst side Anaheim Ducks 11.5. Eight other teams, based on their records, would have under a 10 percent chance at the ultimate Draft prize, from 9.5 to 3.0.

Anyway, Sharks-Hawks tonight at United Center could be four-point swing in the race for likely first-overall pick Macklin Celebrini.

At the moment, Celebrini has separated himself from the pack for No. 1 because of superlative performances as a freshman at Boston University and an under-ager at the World Junior Championships.

He’s considered a franchise two-way center in the mold of Jonathan Toews. What has BU alum David Quinn heard about Celebrini?

“Just what an elite talent he is. What a complete game he plays for a kid at such a young age. How intelligent he is, people rave about him in a lot of areas, and I think he’s earned everything he’s gotten,” Quinn said. “When you’re that age and you show up at the World Juniors and are Canada’s best player, I think that really says it all.”

The Sharks and Blackhawks will face each other twice more this season, Mar. 17 at Chicago and Mar. 23 at SAP Center.

San Jose Sharks (10-31-3)

Mackenzie Blackwood will start.

The Sharks aren’t sure about the rest of their line-up, bumps and bruises from yesterday.

Chicago Blackhawks (12-29-2)

So will we get a Vlasic vs. Vlasic match-up? Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s cousin, Alex Vlasic, has really taken a leap this year. Just 22, the 2019 Chicago second-round pick is playing everyday in the NHL for the first time this season, averaging over 20 minutes a night.

“I hear it’s going very well for him. He’s had a good start to the year. I know he’s had a couple of injuries last couple years, head, shoulder, ankle,” Marc-Edouard Vlasic said this morning. “Big guy, can skate good defensively. Happy for him. He looks good from what I’ve seen. I haven’t followed all of his games, but he seems like he’ll be a very good player for a very long time.”

Also follow Nate Brown at Chicago Hockey Now for all things Hawks!

Where to Watch

Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks is 5:30 PM PT at United Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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