Colorado Avalanche: Cale Makar and Nathan McKinnon Honored

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 26: Cale Makar /

Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon and prospect Cale Makar were honored for their stellar play today.

This time last year, the Colorado Avalanche were getting pity votes for the NHL All Star Team and seemed destined to win the Nolan Patrick Sweepstakes. While the team did finish dead last by a wide margin, Colorado lost out on the first-overall NHL Draft pick (which the New Jersey Devils used to select Nico Hischier anyway), and no one is saying their All Star nominee is a pity vote.

Cale Makar

Colorado dropped all the way to the fourth-overall draft selection, which they used to pick defenseman Cale Makar. While the youngster is having a modest season at the University of Massachussets — one goal and eight assists in 16 games — he tore it up at the IIHF World Junior Championship. He helped Team Canada wing gold with his three goals and five assists. He and fellow Avalanche prospect Conor Timmins were named tournaments MVPs, and Makar was named to the Media All Star Team.

Cale Makar’s play got noticed. Today it surfaced that he had been invited to represent Canada at the Olympic Games. However, Makar has “respectfully” declined:

There are a lot of reasons that Cale Makar may have chosen not to represent Canada at the Olympic Games. First of all, he’d have to miss several weeks of school at UMass. I doubt it’s in his mind to get a full degree at university, but it could well be in his mind to play another year. For that he would need academic eligibility, which would be hard after missing so many classes.

What’s more, Makar would have to miss several games with his NCAA hockey team. He’s seeing big minutes with the team, and has even been called its “crowning jewel” since no other Minutemen player was drafted as high as fourth-overall.

Bob McKenzie of TSN had his own take:

I think development and a sense of obligation could be high on the list of why Cale Makar chose not to play in the Olympics. He played around seven minutes a game for Team Canada at World Juniors — there’s no guarantee he’d get even that much ice time at the Olympics, much less more. Plus, he’s always been very loyal in his commitment to UMass.

Nathan McKinnon

More from Mile High Sticking

Last year, the Colorado Avalanche had a player on the All Star Team because every team gets one. The NHL chose Nathan MacKinnon because, hey, he was the best player on that very bad team.

No one would think that’s why MacKinnon got the nod this season. MacKinnon is second only to Nikita Kucherov in points in the entire NHL and is on-pace for a 30+ goal season and even a 100-point season. Indeed, there’s Hart Trophy talk for the young center.

Some Avalanche fans were upset because Mikko Rantanen wasn’t named to the All Star Team. But then, neither was Phil Kessel or Jonathan Toews. There are only so many spots open. If Rantanen keeps playing the was he has this year — and we all hope he does — it won’t be too long before he’s a natural selection, too, for the team.

The All Star activities take place from January 26 to 28. The Skills Competition is on Saturday, January 27, while the game itself is on the 28th. The NHL will use the popular three-on-three format again.

Next: Makar Charming Fans

It’s exciting to see Colorado Avalanche players (and prospects) recognized for their good play.