June 19, 2024

Smith has skill, needs more size to claim the current Sharks roster

William Smith referred to as a human highlight reel capable of turning a basic play into something special, the 18-year-old center wasted no time in showing off his speed and skill at development camp one week after the San Jose Sharks selected him with the No. 1 pick. 4 in the 2023 NHL Draft.

“A lot of potential,” said John McCarthy, coach of San Jose of the American Hockey League. “You can see why he was drafted where he was. He’s elusive with the puck. He can make plays that other players can’t.”

Smith, who hails from Lexington, Massachusetts, is coming off a productive campaign with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program U-18 team, where he had 127 points (51 goals, 76 assists) in 60 games. He also led the United States with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in seven games at the 2023 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, helping it win the gold medal.

“I definitely see the skill set with Will,” said Sharks coach David Quinn. “The speed at which he plays, his shot and his vision.”

But Smith (6 feet, 181 pounds) isn’t done evolving. He will begin his collegiate career at Boston College this fall, and his goal is to add size and power to his game.

“Strength and the weight room, putting on some muscle and getting more power in my skating,” said Smith. “Obviously I’m always working on something.”

San Jose wants to add size at each end of the ice, so Smith has the right idea.

“Over four or five years, we’ve become a little bit smaller as an organization,” Quinn said. “We all talk about the speed and skill of this game, and it has improved, but [when] Playoff hockey starts, you better have some size.”

The same goes for the AHL as well.

“If you’re going to defend your net hard and if you’re going to attack your net hard, you’re going to need some bigger bodies and stronger guys up front to clear your net and generate those second chances as well, ” said McCarthy.

While the Sharks were excited to select Smith at No. 4, there is no immediate pressure on him to be NHL ready.

“What we’re looking for so far is their approach,” McCarthy said of San Jose’s prospects. “Do they handle themselves like a pro? Do they come in ready to work? Are they attending the meetings? Are they keeping the information? Some guys have done the same thing for five years now, and so you hope they’re a little. a little bit ahead. But for other guys, this is their first crack at it.”

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