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Colby Cohen on What Makes Will Smith So Special, Expectations for His Rookie Year



Credit: Dan Kingerski

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

Could Macklin Celebrini and Will Smith be the San Jose Sharks’ next dynamic duo?

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Could Celebrini and Smith be the partnership that will lead the Sharks to their first-ever Stanley Cup?

That’s a lot to heap on Celebrini, 17, virtually guaranteed to be the Sharks’ No. 1 pick in the 2024 Draft, and 2023 fourth-overall selection Smith, fresh out of Boston College.

But ESPN and Daily Faceoff’s Colby Cohen, who also played over 300 NCAA, AHL, and NHL games, isn’t afraid to put that weight on Celebrini and Smith.

They should be that good.

“I would expect these two guys to lift Stanley Cups together,” Cohen told San Jose Hockey Now. “In five or six years, I think the San Jose Sharks will be in really, really good shape with these two guys if [Mike Grier] makes the right moves and surrounds them with the right guys. Because these are special players.”

But of course, the Sharks haven’t drafted Celebrini yet – the headline news is Smith, who signed on Tuesday.

Looking forward to next year, Cohen discusses what’s so special about Smith, whether he needs any AHL seasoning, the defensive challenges that he will face in the NHL, whether he’ll play center or wing next season, and Cohen’s expectations for Smith’s rookie campaign.

Sheng Peng: Was this a situation where Will Smith maybe had nothing to gain with staying in the college game? Do you think Smith is ready for the San Jose Sharks?

Colby Cohen: I don’t necessarily agree with the first part of that.

Read the Full Interview at NBC Sports Bay Area

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It’s nice to hear someone glorify our kids. I know that Macklin isn’t ours but he is. I believe pundits would take it safer and talk down players.
Colby has watched these kids play. He knows and believes in what he says. I like it. A lot.


Really good interview. First off, I’ll note the large differences between Cohen and Button (very positive) compared to Cam Robinson (not so much) when they talk about Smith. I liked his comments about Smith turning pro, not because he was done learning in college, but because there’d be too many games where he wouldn’t need to play his best. Especially with his linemates being so good. Also thought the comments about his physical challenges against the older/bigger/stronger teams were important. Good insight on why he probably doesn’t spend much time in the AHL. There are some players who need good… Read more »


I think smith at 3c would be worse for his development because the sharks aren’t deep enough on the wings to help their 3rd line be good enough to get the points up to build his confidence.

I think he would be better off on granlund’s wing with eklund, zetterlund or klostin on the opposite wing. Macklin at 2c seems to be ideal and i would hope if couture is healthy he would be on macklin’s wing to help with faceoffs, defensive responsibilities and give him a quality scorer

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