Thursday, October 22, 2020

Colorado Avalanche Cale Makar, The Real deal?

The Colorado Avalanche drafted Cale Makar fourth overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and it didn’t take long for the buzz around him to build with the fans’ expectations running high, hoping that eventually, he will turn into a very good NHL defenceman.

Makar won the 2019 Hobey Baker Award for his dominating play in the NCAA during his sophomore season. The fans knew that Cale was something special and his future looks inevitably bright. Now, only 20 games into his NHL career it seems as though there is something about this kid that makes you think he’s a superstar defenceman in the making.

Cale Makar (8) during morning skate
SAN JOSE, CA – APRIL 26: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (8) during morning skate at the SAP Center before the Avalanche play the San Jose Sharks in the first game of the Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinals April 26, 2019. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

He was thrust into the lineup midway through the first-round series of last seasons Stanley Cup Playoffs against Calgary and made an impact immediately. Scoring a goal in the first period of his first game making his way into the Avs top 4 defenceman.

Makar was impressive during last year’s playoffs, would there be growing pains this season? Possibly but Makar was still buzzing off of the adrenaline of a great NCAA season. To top off an amazing year he was playing for an NHL team in the playoffs which is a dream for any young hockey player. Maintaining his high standard of play for a regular season of 82 games is another thing that Cale has to face and prove a point that he deserves his place on the team.

So far Makar is accelerating forward at a rapid pace. After putting up 11 points in his last six games, he is now up to five goals and 22 points through his first 20 regular-season NHL games. That puts him tied with Dougie Hamilton for second in league scoring among defenders, trailing only John Carlson.

Averaging more power-play time than any other defender on the Avalanche, All five of his goals have come at 5v5 on a team that’s in need an increase of secondary scoring, In which Makar has helped provide it.

The Avalanche have been devastated by injuries – including a long term absence for two of their three all-star forwards – yet the team still leads the Western Conference in goals for. Makar has had a major impact on this accomplishment.

Talking about Cale Makar on The Spittin Chiclets podcast ex NHL stars Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonette referred to Makar as being one of the top rookie defensemen in the league. His lateral skating is possibly the best they’ve ever seen and these guys are veterans now so know their stuff. Also, it was said that once Makar’s contract is up he will be looking for a similar contract as Erik Karlsson who’s on an $11million a year contract for the next 8 years which for a young lad like Makar is incredible.

He’s producing points at a league-high rate and doing it while getting less ice time than any other NHL defenseman in the top-12. Makar has proven he’s more than capable of holding his own against veteran NHL forwards.

While Erik Johnson and Samuel Girard log the big minutes as the top defensive pair in Colorado, Makar’s ice-time is creeping up. Playing with either Ian Cole or Nikita Zadorov, the rookie is the undisputed number three on the blue line as he works his way through the few hiccups we’ve seen in his game. Thanks to the presence of Johnson and Girard, the Avs don’t need Makar to play a shutdown role but when he’s called on to do so, he’s shown that he’s more than capable to do so.

“I feel really comfortable with where his game is at and he’s just going to continue to build on that.” Coach Jared Bednar mentioned about Makar’s defensive game.

As he gets more comfortable on the ice, Makar’s coaches seem to be gaining more confidence in him. Makar’s ice time has been going up. In the last two games, his TOI exceeded 22 minutes in consecutive games for the first time all season.

Makar is currently on the injured reserve after suffering an injury against the Bruins recently and is due for return on Monday.

Cale Makar is going to be a big name in the league eventually if he can keep up the momentum of his play that he’s exhibited so early on in his career.

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