After leading the UMass Minutemen to a historic season, defenseman Cale Makar signed an entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche, prepping him for imminent action in Colorado’s playoff series with the Calgary Flames.
Nearly two years ago, the Avalanche held an 18 percent chance at winning the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery following a franchise worst 22-56-4 record, but ultimately fell the maximum three spots, leaving them with the fourth overall selection.
The Avalanche used that pick to draft Makar, whose development hardly suggests him as any type of consolation prize. He has has matured quickly with the NCAA’s Minutemen and chose to forgo his last two seasons with UMass.
The sophomore led all NCAA defensemen in scoring and finished third in the nation with 49 points (16 G, 33 A) in 41 games, while his plus-32 rating placed him second.
The Calgary native led the Minutemen to a series of firsts in 2018-19, where their 31-10 record earned the program its first-ever Frozen Four appearance and a crack at defending champ Minnesota Duluth, which proved to be the only team that could stop Makar and the Minutemen in the championship game.
Makar’s incredible season saw him crowned Hockey East Player of the Year, First Team All-American, and winner of the Hobey Baker Award.
“He is a game-changing type of player who made a lasting impact on the UMass hockey program,” Avalance general manager Joe Sakic said in a statement Sunday. “We are excited to have him join our team.”
There’s little doubt about the 20-year-old’s ability to transition to the NHL, where he’ll likely get an immediate look in Monday’s Game 3 against regular season Western Conference champion Calgary.
Makar’s smooth-skating, fast-paced mentality has made him an offensive stud in college and there’s been virtually no tradeoff in his own zone, as his two-way dependability remains high.
He spent the season with all eyes on him and rose to the occasion. Now, in the 1-1 series, Makar will get a chance to showcase the brightness of Colorado’s defensive future in front of the home crowd.
Don’t miss Makar’s NHL debut Monday night in Colorado, when the Avalanche take on the Flames in Game 3 at 10 PM CT on CNBC.
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