Macklin Celebrini (far right in the photo), largely considered one of the best hockey players in the 2006 birth year, has announced his commitment to play at Boston University via his Instagram. The Vancouver, British Columbia native spent last season with the vaunted Shattuck St. Mary’s program in Minnesota and will be moving on next season to play with the USHL’s Chicago Steel.
“I am honored and humbled to announce my commitment to play at Boston University,” Celebrini said in his Instagram post. “I would like to thank my friends, family and coaches for everything they’ve done to help me on my journey. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Celebrini is a highly-skilled forward with elite hockey sense, electric skating ability and a high-end release on his shot. He posted 117 points in 52 games while playing for Shattuck’s top U18 team as a 15-year-old. There is only one player in the illustrious history of Shattuck St. Mary’s that produced at a higher rate for the prep team as a U16 player – perhaps Shattuck’s most famous alumnus, Sidney Crosby.
Celebrating Celebrating! Happy birthday to Steel forward Mack Celebrini! pic.twitter.com/cSH1fmMFIr
— Chicago Steel (@ChicagoSteel) June 13, 2022
Those that have been tracking Celebrini the last few years believe him to be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. While there’s a long way to go, there’s a lot to be excited about with Celebrini slated to begin his first season of junior hockey with Chicago in 2022-23.
For Boston University, this is a major recruiting coup for new head coach Jay Pandolfo, who replaced Albie O’Connell in the spring. Landing the top recruit in the 2006 birth year is a statement addition for the Terriers.
It is believed that Celebrini, who turned 16 in June is going to work towards an accelerated high school degree in order to join BU as early as the 2023-24 season, which would put him in the NCAA ranks for his draft-eligible season.
In the last decade, BU has seen multiple high draft picks spend their draft-eligible season at Agganis Arena. Jack Eichel was drafted second overall by the Buffalo Sabers in 2015, Charlie McAvoy was picked 14th overall by the Boston Bruins in 2016, and Brady Tkachuk was taken fourth overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2017 and those are only the most recent examples of players who got picked in the first round following their freshman seasons. Celebrini has a good chance to join that trio as a top pick.
Celebrini is also following closely in the skate strides of recent top Canadian talents that chose going the college route by way of the USHL and specifically the Chicago Steel. Buffalo Sabers No. 1 pick in 2021, Owen Power, played for Chicago before going to the University of Michigan for his draft-eligible season and even returned for his sophomore campaign in 2021-22. Additionally, Adam Fantilli – largely considered one of the three best prospects for the 2023 NHL Draft – played two seasons with the Chicago Steel and will go to the University of Michigan for the 2022-23 campaign. These types of talents used to be few and far between in US college hockey, but there’s a bit of a trend going right now.
As for Boston University and Pandolfo, this could be a game-changing recruit for their program even if he’s there for just one season, as can be the case with players as high end as Celebrini.
The Terriers are coming off a season that saw them miss the NCAA tournament with a pedestrian – by their standards – 19-13-3 record. With Pandolfo at the helm, BU has an alumnus and former captain, as well as a former Stanley Cup champion and NHL veteran who also spent a few years behind the bench as an assistant with the Boston Bruins. One thing that was n’t as clear is how he would be on the recruiting trail, but picking up a legit blue-chip prospect who might be the best player in the world at his age should assuage any doubts there now.
Earlier in the spring, BU had landed a commitment from Celebrini’s older brother Aiden, a defenseman who spent last season on the prep team at Shattuck and will be with the Chicago Steel next season as well. Aiden had 32 points in 55 games for Shattuck this season.
Monday marked the first day during which hockey players from the 2006 birth year were eligible to make verbal commitments to college programs. Several programs have landed blue-chip recruits in the preceding days, but Celebrini was the player everyone was watching and waiting for.
According to sources close to Celebrini, his final two choices came down to BU and the University of Wisconsin, but just about every school in the country would have wanted to bring in the top young talent. Celebrini also had the option of going to the Western Hockey League as the Seattle Thunderbirds took him first overall in the WHL’s US Prospect Draft in 2021.