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2017 NHL Draft Profile: Out of nowhere, Cale Makar is suddenly a hot commodity

Playing in Junior A hockey in Alberta, Makar was off the radar to start the year, but not anymore.

It's probably unlikely the Canes take yet another defenseman with the 12th pick, but Cale Makar would be a solid addition if they head that direction.

Posted by Canes Country on Friday, June 2, 2017

In our 2017 NHL Draft Preview, we look closely at some of the prospects that could be available when the Hurricanes draft at 12th overall on June 23 in Chicago.

Cale Makar

  • DOB: October 30, 1998 - Calgary, Alberta
  • Team: Brooks Bandits (Alberta Junior Hockey League)
  • Defenseman | Shoots: R | 5’11”, 188 pounds
  • 2016-17 Stats: 54 GP - 24G, 51A, 75 Points, 18 PIM

Prospect Breakdown

Of all the players in this draft, Makar has made the biggest move on draft boards from the start of the season to the finish. His meteoric rise now projects him somewhere in the top-10, with the potential of going even higher if someone falls hard for his dynamic offensive talent. He is a product of the Canadian Junior Hockey League and the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits, choosing to keep his NCAA eligibility while playing his junior hockey.

Much like Casey Mittelstadt, Makar’s biggest question mark comes from the level of competition that he has played against. His tools are undeniable, but he is a bit undersized, and has been the most talented player on the ice night in and night out over the couple seasons, leading to his rightfully gaudy numbers. However, his overall talent and raw tools may cause evaluators to overlook those questions.

The Calgary native will attend UMass-Amherst next season where he will certainly jump a competition level. Last season Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro and Dennis Cholowski were all first round picks who made the jump from the CJHL to college hockey. Jost was extremely successful and signed his entry-level deal with the Avs following his freshman campaign. It will be interesting to watch what developmental path that Makar takes moving forward.

Scouting Analysis

Watching Makar in the offensive zone, you can almost picture an NBA point guard because of the way the offense runs through him whenever he is on the ice. Orchestrating from the back end with his elite-level skating ability and agility, Makar is lethal in transition, whether he is carrying the puck or pinging pinpoint breakout passes to his forwards.

When in possession, Makar occupies much of the defense’s attention which often leaves his teammates open for scoring opportunities. He has great instincts, knowing when to go backdoor for a high-danger chance or join the rush in odd man situations. His shot is effective, as he has the ability to get it off quickly and without a ton of effort.

Overall, Makar is a dynamic puck mover and potential power play star given his offensive skill set. He will likely have to adapt to defending players of a higher skill level, but he has all the tools to be a capable defender in the future. Likely his ceiling is as the offensive complementary half of a skilled top-two pairing.

Final Thoughts

Makar is incredibly talented, and has a bright future ahead of him offensively as a puck-moving presence at the NHL level. However, the Hurricanes drafted a player 13th overall a year ago in that same mold in Jake Bean. If Makar falls down the board to 12, he’s certainly worth taking a closer look at, as it’s never bad to have too many capable defensemen, but there are probably bigger needs elsewhere.

The coup for the Canes could be if a player like Makar slides, there could be some interest from teams trying to move up or jump back into the first round to secure his services. Colorado comes to mind as an option, especially if they don’t select a defenseman with their first pick of the evening at number four. In that situation, there could be some incentive to move out of the position if a team is willing to overpay to get Makar’s talent on the roster.