Sharks sign prized prospect Will Smith to a 3-year deal after 1 stellar season in college

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The San Jose Sharks signed prized prospect Will Smith to a three-year entry-level contract on Tuesday after one stellar season at Boston College.

The 19-year-old Smith led the nation with 71 points and 46 assists as a freshman and was tied for sixth in the country with 25 goals in 41 games. He had the most points in a season for a BC player since Johnny Gaudreau had 80 in 2013-14.

Smith was picked fourth overall in last year's draft and felt he is ready to move on from college and attempt to play in the NHL.

“To be honest personally, I think it was time to take that next step,” Smith said. “Obviously it’s the best league in the world. You’re getting the best players every single night, night in and night out. I think that’s something that factored into wanting to make the next step.”

Smith is a key part of San Jose's youth movement that the Sharks hope will help the team get back into contention after posting the worst record in the NHL the previous five seasons.

Smith is expected to team with projected No. 1 overall pick Macklin Celebrini to lead the rebuild for San Jose.

The Sharks won the draft lottery and are planning to take the Hobey Baker Award winner first overall next month. Celebrini had 64 points in 38 games for Boston University last season and ranked second in Division I behind Smith by averaging 1.68 points per game.

“Obviously it’s a huge opportunity for us,” Smith said. “Macklin is projected to go first. If and when he gets picked, that will be pretty awesome to help this team take the next step and obviously get back to where the Sharks were.”

Smith helped Boston College win the regular season and tournament title in Hockey East and helped the Eagles reach the NCAA title game before losing to Denver in the championship game.

Smith scored four goals in the Hockey East title game against Boston University, and had two goals and two assists in four NCAA Tournament games.

“Will is a dynamic and exciting young center and we are thrilled to have him join the organization after an impressive season with Boston College,” general manager Mike Grier said. “We felt that this is the next best step for his development to becoming a full-time NHL player, and we are looking forward to seeing him compete at the highest level of hockey.”

Smith previously played for the United States National program and recently represented Team USA in the 2024 world championship. He also had nine points to help lead the U.S. to the gold medal in the 2024 world junior championship.