Despite some recent doubts, the Colorado Avalanche have indeed signed top prospect Cale Makar to an entry-level contract beginning this season, as had been expected all along. The team has announced a three-year contract with Makar, as well as indicating that he will join the team immediately in their first-round playoff series. Makar’s collegiate career came to an end last night when the University of Massachusetts failed to complete the storybook season with a loss to the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the National Championship Game. Makar wasted no time in moving to the next stage of his career though, turning pro about twelve hours later.
Makar, 20, was the fourth overall pick in 2017 and fans in Colorado have been excited for his arrival ever since. The dynamic defenseman is considered by many to be the best prospect in hockey, a title helped along by Makar being named the Hobey Baker Award winner on Friday night as the best player in college hockey. Makar finished second among all NCAA defensemen in both goals and assists and is third in scoring among all players this season. An elite play-maker with skating ability, vision, and awareness beyond his years, Makar is an offensive force. However, he is not afraid to play physical as well, as he showcased in the National Championship Game. Makar’s highlight-reel goals and assists may get the most attention, but he also breaks up plays with regularity and is a smart, instinctual defensive player. Makar led UMass with 49 points in 41 games this year, but also led the team with a +32 rating. While many Minutemen players had big seasons and were well coached by Greg Carvel, it is fair to say that Makar was the driving force behind the program’s best season ever.
UMass fans will certainly be sad to see Makar go, especially after just two years in Amherst, but it was inevitable for a player who is ready to make an impact in the NHL right away. In the Avalanche’s release, GM Joe Sakic called Makar “a game-changing type of player” and applauded his success at the college level. Colorado is so eager to get Makar into the lineup, that they will let him burn the first year of his contract for possibly just a few games and will also have to protect him in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Yet, after defeating the Calgary Flames in Game Two to tie the series, the Avs may see Makar’s addition as a way to further strengthen their team as they look to pull off the 1-8 upset in the Western Conference. It is not clear if Makar will be in the lineup immediately on Monday night, but it would not be a surprise, as Colorado is eager to debut their new star.