by Brian Sibley
College Hockey’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy–The Hobey Baker Award–was won today by Cale Makar, the highly touted 20-year-old sophomore defenseman for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. Makar was drafted fourth overall in 2017 by the Colorado Avalanche, their reward for having the worst record in franchise history the previous season; but Makar is much more than a consolation prize, and the Avs are looking forward to his contributions very soon.
But first things first: the Minutemen have advanced to tomorrow’s Frozen Four title game, against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. All eyes in both New England and Colorado, will be looking to see if Makar can help bring the Minutemen a championship. If they do, it’s conceivable that the Avs will call him up during a tough first-round series against his hometown team, the Calgary Flames.
Makar is a gifted offensive defenseman, who led the NCAA in points among defensemen and outscored a large percentage of forwards. Blessed with terrific vision and a deep well of creativity, he can shoot from anywhere on the ice with pinpoint accuracy. Watching him play, you could easily mistake his playing style for that of a top-three forward.
The Avalanche already have a talented core of blueliners, led by Tyson Barrie–already their all-time franchise leader in scoring among defensemen–and youngster Samuel Girard, both of whom can jump into the play and open up scoring chances but also play well in their zone. Makar’s style of play fits in perfectly with this defensive corps, giving coach Jared Bednar another weapon in all three zones.
If the collective cries of, “dude, where’s Makar?” from Avs Nation are heeded, it will likely be for their Game 3 contest in Denver this Monday night. This will make for an interesting scenario: a debut game, in his home jersey, against his hometown team. The NHL loves a hometown-boy-makes-good story as much as any other league, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Makar get called up. He’s ready to compete at the NHL level, and his presence can help the Avalanche advance to the next round.