Photo Credit: Brooks Bandits
Canucks at Five will be a series consisting of draft profiles for potential selections at 5th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
By Scott Rosenhek
At this point, I have covered two potential first line centres in this series. Now, it’s time to look at a potential top unit power play quarterback that Jim Benning may like. Cale Makar hails from Calgary Alberta, in a league that is not as well known on the West Coast. He plays in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, a Junior A league that is a tier below the CHL.
Makar is a smallish defenceman at 5’11 and is a right-side shot to boot! Cale Makar is no lightweight at 179 lbs, but from reports on seeing him live, he appears to play even heavier than his listed weight. For Canucks fans, it almost sounds like I am talking about Troy Stecher! Makar is an elite skater with an incredible slapshot. He has elite offensive instincts, hockey sense and is a power play specialist for the Brooks Bandits.
Cale Makar put up 75 points in 54 games in the regular season and 16 points in 13 games in the playoffs. The Brooks Bandits dominated the AJHL playoffs, winning the league championships. At the time of writing this article, the Brooks Bandits are participating in the Western Canada Cup. The Bandits defeated the Chilliwack Chiefs in a 5-2 victory with Makar picking up a goal and an assist. Chilliwack finished in second place in the BCHL finals. Makar’s team also played the BCHL Champion Penticton Vees, winning 4-3 in a shootout (Makar had one assist).
As we can see from his profile on Elite Prospects, his draft rankings are across the board from as low as 12th and as high as 5th. Craig Button has Makar being selected at the seventh overall position in the draft.
The high-end assessments of Makar compare his abilities to that of Erik Karlsson. I believe it is a little dangerous to place such a young defender in that stratosphere, but Makar does possess elite offensive talent. Grant McCagg believes Cale Makar is defenceman equivalent of Mitch Marner, which is significant praise about his offensive ability.
Makar is also very strong in his own end as well. He is a responsible defenceman and does not need to cheat to make an offensive play since he can use speed to his advantage. Makar has the potential to become a number one defenceman if he can reach his absolute ceiling.
The biggest reason for the lower rankings by some outlets is the league Makar plays in. As it is a tier below the CHL, there are additional questions regarding Makar’s ability to transfer his skills to the NHL level. He is so dominant at this level that I believe the average CHL defenceman would not achieve the level of success he currently enjoys.
Cale Makar is committed to an NCAA college next season, so selecting him will require patience. Honestly, I think that is a good thing for his development as he will have 2-3 years to test his skills at a higher level.
Patience will be key. Fortunately, other players from Junior A leagues like Tyson Jost have been able to break into the NHL rather quickly after a year of college. Defencemen Dante Fabbro and Dennis Cholowski have had decent freshman seasons in college and Cholowski has been recently signed by the Red Wings.
All in all, Cale Makar is a very exciting player with immense potential and I would be happy if he were to be selected by the Canucks in this year’s entry draft.
Here is a link to Makar’s highlights.