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SOURCE: Sharks Leaning Toward Smith at No. 4?



Credit: USA Hockey/Rena Laverty

File this under possible smoke screen.

But a league source just shared this bit of San Jose Sharks’ Draft Combine buzz: “Rumor is Will Smith is flying to San Jose for a tour. He sounds like the Sharks’ guy.”

Now take this with a grain of salt. I trust my source, or I wouldn’t have shared his text, but he’s just passing on what he’s heard. Remember, it’s a rumor.

I believe this is under the assumption that the Chicago Blackhawks will take Connor Bedard first-overall, the Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Fantilli at No. 2, and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Leo Carlsson third-overall. That’s the general industry consensus right now, and would leave Smith, Matvei Michkov, and David Reinbacher as some of the likelier possibilities for the San Jose Sharks at No. 4.

Smith is an offense-first centerman, who put up 127 points in just 60 contests for the USNTDP this past season. He followed that with a tournament-leading 20 points in just seven games for gold medal-winning Team USA at the U18 World Junior Championships.

“High, high offensive motor, creativity. Killer shot, vision,” an NHL scout told San Jose Hockey Now last month.

Scouts Talk Michkov, Carlsson, Smith’s Strengths, Weaknesses

Also connecting the dots between Smith and the San Jose Sharks?

“He’s a Boston kid. He was at high school with my oldest son for a year before he left for the [USNTDP],” Sharks GM Mike Grier shared.

Grier Happy With No. 4 Pick, Talks Michkov, Carlsson, Smith (+)

“When you’re picking that high, you really find comfort in picking what you know. I know the kid personally, I know everybody around this kid,” another NHL scout told SJHN. “With the Massachusetts stuff, you’re right, Grier and Fitzgerald, Tim Burke of course, if they pass on Will Smith, it won’t be for a lack of information. They’ll have more than anybody.”

Grier, director of player personnel Scott Fitzgerald, and senior adviser Tim Burke are all from Massachusetts.

Anyway, where does that leave the polarizing Michkov or fast-rising defenseman Reinbacher?

According to this source, the Montreal Canadiens with the fifth-overall pick might have a surprise up their sleeve: “Sounds like it’s Reinbacher or Leonard for Montreal.”

That’s Smith’s USNTDP linemate Ryan Leonard, also ex-Sharks winger John Leonard’s younger brother.

As for Michkov? Like many, this league source is guessing that he won’t get past the Washington Capitals at No. 8.

Are There Character Concerns With Matvei Michkov?

Once again, take all this with a grain of salt. It’s just what one person heard at the Draft Combine, which concludes today in Buffalo.

The first round of the 2023 NHL Draft is on Jun. 28 in Nashville.

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