Sharks’ Will Smith is on track to quickly make it to the NHL

The San Jose Sharks are one of the NHL teams that has the brightest future ahead of them. Over the past few seasons, the team has slowly built up a pool of prospects who are confidently making their way into the NHL. However, one of their promising players has a much shorter time frame for his Sharks debut. This potential client is none other than Will Smith.

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The Sharks selected Smith fourth overall in the 2023 NHL Draft (Fresh Prince of San Jose: Sharks select shooting center in NHL Draft, Mercury News). Last season, he scored 127 points in 60 games for Team USA, a member of the National Team Development Program. That amount of points would likely have put Smith first or second in any other draft class, but this year’s draft was so strong that he dropped to fourth. As a result, there is a good chance that Smith will make it into the Sharks’ starting lineup much sooner than many of their other prospects.

Smith is spending his post-draft season at Boston College.

Instead of trying to jump straight into the NHL after being taken fourth overall, Smith decided to spend his first year as a Sharks prospect at Boston College in the NCAA. Although the season hasn’t started yet, the decision to let his development happen naturally already shows that the Sharks aren’t going to rush their now top prospect. That being said, the transition to college hockey will likely be relatively easy for Smith.

Will Smith, USNTDP
Will Smith, USNTDP (Rena Laverty/USA Hockey NTDP)

One trait that Smith is constantly praised for is his ability to control the game. Given his unreal production point a year earlier, it’s easy to see that he has a natural gift for making the game follow him rather than the other way around. While there is no verifiable evidence that this skill will transfer to the NCAA, it would not be surprising to see Smith continue his amazing production ability immediately. In fact, there’s a chance he’ll do so well that fans could see him in the NHL for one season.

Smith is capable of creating Sharks relatively soon

In fact, seeing Smith play for the Sharks in the 2023-24 season wouldn’t be all that surprising. That being said, there is a possibility that this could still be the case. Although Smith has committed to Boston College this season, it’s not uncommon to see prospects join their teams as the season winds down. For Smith, such events would not be surprising at all. However, he could very well end up with the Sharks permanently after this season.

Will Smith San Jose Sharks
Will Smith, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irwin/The Hockey Writers)

Similar to what has been said about Smith’s ability to transition to the NCAA, it would not be surprising to see him transition to the NHL with little to no problem. Additionally, the Sharks are starting to extend the time of their NHL prospects. They may have finally reached a point where they are ready to start moving towards a younger team. If that’s the case, then Smith is the ideal player to allow for extended playing time with a completely new roster. Only time will tell what the Sharks will do, but Smith could be exactly what they need to jumpstart the future.

Overall, Smith is exactly what the Sharks need to help push their rebuild in the right direction. While he won’t start the 2023-24 season with the Sharks, he could very well finish the season with them. Unlike most prospects, he is already on his way to the NHL, which makes him special. While the Sharks could add another prospect later this season, Smith is the best shot they have at being a superstar at the moment. Hopefully fans will see him in turquoise sooner or later.

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