The Colorado Avalanche have made a significant signing as they inked Cale Makar, their fourth-overall selection from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, to a three-year entry-level contract. Makar just closed out his second season with UMass-Amherst in the NCAA and is set to join the Avalanche during their playoff run.
Makar finished his NCAA career with 21 goals and 70 points in 75 games, including a very impressive 16 goals and 49 points in 41 games this season alone. His stellar 2018-19 season would earn him the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the most outstanding player in U.S. college hockey.
Makar would dominate Hockey East and would lead the UMass Minutemen to their first No. 1 ranking in the history of the school, ultimately winning their first-ever Hockey East regular-season championship.
“Cale obviously had a tremendous season, winning the Hobey Baker and getting his team to the Frozen Four,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President/General Manager Joe Sakic. “He is a game-changing type of player who made a lasting impact on the UMass hockey program. We are excited to have him join our team.”
Makar was highly touted coming out of the Draft and his seamless two-way ability is just part of the reason for the intrigue. Makar is an incredibly effective defender with the puck on his stick both in his own zone and in the opposing team’s zone, but he’s also a more-than-capable defender away from the puck as well. His smarts make him a game-changing player and the maturity he has already as a 20-year-old can’t be overstated.
Makar Provides Huge Playoff Boost for Avalanche
Now that the Avalanche are tied up in a deadlock with the Calgary Flames in the first round of the postseason right now, Makar joins a team hungry to prove their worth. The Flames were one of the best teams in the entire NHL this season and have been considered by many to be the easy favorites to move on past the first round against the Avalanche.
With Colorado winning Game 2 against the Flames in overtime Saturday, the series evened out at one win apiece heading back to Colorado. This was already great news for Avalanche fans and the addition of Makar simply makes this weekend a memorable one for Colorado altogether.
The Avalanche currently feature Samuel Girard and Erik Johnson on their top pairing, Nikita Zadorov and Tyson Barrie on their second pairing and Ian Cole and Patrik Nemeth on their bottom pairing. Makar is a right-shot defender, making Nemeth the most likely player to be removed from the lineup for Game 3 in favor of Makar, assuming he joins the team from the get-go without issue.
Rookies have made their first jump to the NHL in the postseason a few times before and it certainly adds a level of expectations given the do-or-die circumstances. Still, with the way Makar has played throughout his career, it’s hard to anticipate him doing anything but succeed.