Colorado Avalanche: Cale Makar Would be a Speedy Little D-Man

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Colorado Avalanche may try to choose a defenseman with their #4 draft pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. Cale Makar may be on their radar.

The Colorado Avalanche have the fourth-overall draft pick 2017 NHL Draft. Yes, it’s true. After a 48-point season the team fell all the way to the #4 selection.

The New Jersey Devils, who had the #5 position, jumped to #1. They won the Nolan Patrick race. They had a 28-40-24 record, earning 70 points, 22 more than the Avs.

The Philadelphia Flyers had the #13 position and jumped to #2. They presumably won the Nico Hischier race. They had 88 points — 40 more than the Colorado Avalanche.

The Dallas Stars had the #8 position and jumped to #3. They had 79 points — 31 more than Colorado. What’s interesting is who they are going to pick.

Numbers one and two are pretty set in this year’s draft, although even those offer some wiggle room. Number three depends on the team, and no one has a consensus of the number-four pick.

So, while many times the top-five or even top-10 draft picks are dictated by best player available, that’s not going to happen in this year’s draft. Teams are going to pick players according to need or how the player fits in their future plans.

It’s not exactly a secret that the Colorado Avalanche need defense. There are three defensemen who might go top-10 in this year’s draft. One of them is Timothy Liljegren, who’s scouted to go between #6 to #8. Another is Miro Heiskanen, scouted to go between #4 to #11.

The third is Cale Makar, scouted to go between #5 to #15. Let’s see what young Cale might bring to the team.

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Cale Makar

colorado avalanche
Cale Makar impresses scouts with his speed, skating and stick handling. /

2016-17 Team

: Brooks Bandits (AJHL)

Date of Birth

: October 30, 1998 (18 years old)

Ht

: 5’11”

Wt

: 179 lbs

Position

: Defenseman

Shoots

: Right

Cale Makar seems to be offering a team everything in one tight little package. He’s a playmaking defenseman with the coveted right-hand shot.

According to Ryan Pike of the Hockey Writers, the two best words to describe Makar’s game are “speed” and “skill.” He’s known for being the type of player who darts around on the ice. Pike adds that Makar is a “very good skater” who uses his “acceleration and maneuverability to go from the right point to the net-front area in short order, which allows him to generate a lot of high-quality scoring chances.”

Ben Kerr of Last Word on Sports also has a lot to say about Cale Makar’s skating:

"“It is in his agility and edge work where he really shines. Makar has excellent lateral mobility and can cover a ton of ice. His pivots are crisp and clean, allowing him to cover 360 degrees of ice. Makar also has very good core strength and balance, making him tough to knock off the puck.”"

Future Considerations adds that Makar has “an effortless stride and light feet.”

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All of this skating ability makes Cale Makar an ideal transitional player. As Future Considerations points out, he doesn’t lose any speed during transitions, which makes him difficult to defend against since he “can change directions on a dime.”

Makar isn’t just all about skating — he’s been an offensive dynamo at the lower levels. He generated a lot of interest among hockey scouts when he captained Team Canada in the World Junior A Tournament and scored four goals and four assists in four games.

Peter Harling of Dobber Prospects considers Cale Makar to be “the most offensive defenceman in his draft class and the fastest skater of the 2017 draft group as well.”

Harling also praises Makar’s hockey sense as well as his ability to read plays. Future Considerations concurs:

"“[Makar] has high level awareness in all areas on the ice and has an innate understanding of how the play is developing. [His] instincts and smarts with the puck are elite and he is a driver of offence.”"

The other area besides skating that Cale Makar has impressed scouts is in his offense. Indeed, Ryan Pike declares that Makar is “flat-out one of the most dynamic offensive threats in his level of hockey and age group.”

Future Considerations explains that Makar has a solid shot that can surprise goalies. It adds that he has smooth hands and “an ability to dangle through defenders.”

Ben Kerr is impressed with Cale Makar’s wrist shot, calling it “very good.” Kerr also observes that Makar’s overall stickhandling and hockey smarts make him an offensive threat.

Cale Makar has already committed to playing for the University of Massachussets next season.

Cale Makar in action:

Cale Makar and the Colorado Avalanche

Every scout pretty much points out the same thing — Cale Makar doesn’t have ideal size for the NHL. What’s funny is he’s Tyson Barrie-size at 18.

Actually, Makar sounds like Tyson Barrie all over again. His skating may be better than Barrie’s. However, as Kerr points out, Makar relies on positioning and stick work over strength or physicality to defend. That’s not a bad thing — that’s just a thing the Colorado Avalanche already have in Tyson Barrie.

Cale Makar is considered one of the top-rated defensemen in the 2017 NHL Draft. However, as I stated above, he’s not slated to go any higher than #5. I don’t think it’s worth it for the Colorado Avalanche to spend their #4 draft pick on Makar since he has a size and skill set similar to a player we already have.

MORE COLORADO AVALANCHE PROSPECTS:

If, however, Makar falls to the second round — and anything is possible in this year’s draft — it’s definitely worth it for the Avalanche to pick up another small, speedy defenseman with great stick skills. That definitely fits the team’s M.O.