The Colorado Avalanche are not hesitating with top prospect Cale Makar. The 20-year old defenseman will make his NHL debut tonight for the team, replacing the injured Samuel Girard. Makar will be paired with Patrik Nemeth, though he may be moved around a bit as he gets his footing at the NHL level.
Makar only just signed his entry-level contract with the Avalanche on Sunday, but will jump right into a series with the Calgary Flames that is tied at one game apiece. It just so happens that Makar is a Calgary native, though he’ll make his debut on home ice in Colorado.
Just by signing his deal for this season Makar had burned the first year of his three-year contract, but playing tonight has further consequences. As Bob McKenzie of TSN noted when the young defenseman signed yesterday, playing in just a single game for the Avalanche will make Makar eligible for the 2021 expansion draft. While that shouldn’t overshadow what is sure to be an incredible night for the top prospect, it certainly had to come into consideration for the Colorado front office who will have plenty of decisions to make ahead of that draft.
The Avalanche already have several defensemen that will deserve protection but also will be required to use one of their slots on veteran Erik Johnson given his no-movement clause. There are ways around a clause like that, but it could force the Avalanche to make a move prior to the draft instead. Either way, Makar making his debut tonight has complicated things and hopefully it will be worth it as the Avalanche try to fell a giant in the Western Conference bracket.