Cale Douglas Makar (born October 30, 1998) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected in the first round, fourth overall, by the Avalanche in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Makar won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 2019–20, becoming the sixth Avalanche/Nordiques player to win the award.
Makar, a Calgary native, first played within the Crowchild Blackhawks minor-hockey program before moving to play with the NWCAA Bruins at the Bantam level in 2011. He also played bantam with the Calgary Flames before moving to minor midget with the NWCAA Stampeders. Makar was originally drafted at the major junior level by the Western Hockey League (WHL)’s Medicine Hat Tigers in the eighth round, 164th overall, of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.
Having returned to the Calgary Flames for the minor midget level, in his only full season with the club in 2014–15, Makar led the team in scoring with 23 points in 34 league games, being named the team’s Most Valuable Player and selected to the Alberta Midget Hockey League First All-Star Team. To retain his NCAA eligibility, Makar joined as an affiliate player to the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) at the tail end of the season, recording five points in three regular season games. In helping the Bandits reach the finals, Makar was third among defenceman in scoring with 7 points in 20 games. Having agreed to return with the Bandits in the forthcoming seasons, Makar announced his commitment to play collegiate hockey with the University of Massachusetts–Amherst of the Hockey East NCAA conference on August 29, 2015.
As a 17-year-old, Makar established himself as a standout defenceman with the Bandits in 2015–16, logging 55 points in 54 games, en route to earning AJHL All-League and All-Rookie recognition. He scored 14 points in 13 games to help the Bandits claim the AJHL championship. His productive season collected AJHL and CJHL Rookie of the Year Awards, the Western Canada Cup Top Defenceman Award, and the RBC Cup Top Defenceman, Top Scorer and Most Valuable Player awards.
Makar sustained and built upon his previous success in the 2016–17 season to lead all defencemen and finished sixth among all skaters in the AJHL with 75 points (24 goals and 51 assists) in 54 games, collecting the league’s MVP and top defenceman accolades. He had 16 points in 13 playoff games to help Brooks to a second straight AJHL championship and six points in five games to help the Bandits to a second-place finish in the Royal Bank Cup. He was chosen as the RBC Cup Top Defenceman and Most Valuable Player, the first player to ever be named RBC Cup MVP in back-to-back seasons. He received the CJHL Most Valuable Player Award and won the prestigious RBC National Junior A Player of the Year Award.
Through Makar’s rapid rise up the rankings prior to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, he was considered a top prospect and one of the top defencemen available. He was described as a dynamic skater that creates offence whenever he is on the ice. Makar was ultimately selected fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche, the second defenceman selected in the draft, after third overall selection Miro Heiskanen. Makar became the highest drafted player to come straight from the AJHL, and just the second in the first round since Joe Colborne in 2008.
Despite his blue-chip prospect status, Makar opted to remain loyal to his commitment in joining the rebuilding UMass Minuteman program for the 2017–18 season. As a freshman, he immediately assumed a top-pairing role, alongside Jake McLaughlin, and recorded his first collegiate point in his debut against Arizona State University on October 6, 2017. He recorded his first goal in a 4–0 victory over Merrimack College on October 27, 2017.
While showing an adjustment period to the collegiate level, Makar raised his game through the new year to help the Minutemen to turnaround their program to make the post-season before suffering a 7–2 defeat to the hands of Northeastern University. He finished fifth on the team in scoring, second amongst defenceman, with 5 goals and 16 assists for 21 points in 34 games. He was selected with co-Rookie of the Year honors by the New England Hockey Writers Association and by finishing ninth in defenceman scoring in the Hockey East, he was selected to the conference’s All-Rookie and Third All-Star Teams.
With the season concluded and despite interest from the Colorado Avalanche in turning pro, Makar opted to continue his development in returning for his sophomore season with UMass in 2018–19. That season, Makar became the first Minutemen honored as Hockey East Player of the Year after he led the league in scoring and finished second in the conference. Makar was also selected for the Hockey East First All-Star Team and named a Hobey Baker Award finalist. On April 12, Makar was announced the winner of the Hobey Baker. The following night, Makar and the Minutemen lost 3–0 to University of Minnesota Duluth in the Frozen Four final.
On April 14, 2019, the Avalanche signed Makar to a three-year, entry-level contract. He scored his first career NHL goal with his first shot in the league in his debut a day later, during Game 3 of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Calgary Flames. In so doing, he became the first defenseman to score a playoff goal in his NHL debut.
Makar made the Avalanche opening line up for the 2019–20 season and he scored his first career regular season goal in a 6–1 win over the Golden Knights. He was subsequently named a Third Star of the Week for the week of November 10, becoming the first Avalanche rookie to earn the honor. On November 12, 2019 in a 4–0 road win against the Winnipeg Jets, Makar became the second Avalanche defenceman to record 18 points in 18 games as a rookie. However, he suffered an upper body injury in a game against the Boston Bruins on December 7 and was listed as day-to-day. At the time of his injury, he was leading rookies in scoring with 28 points in 29 games. Makar returned to the Avalanche’s lineup on December 27, where he recorded an assist in the 6–4 loss to the Minnesota Wild. On January 18, 2020, Makar set a new Avalanche franchise record with his 11th goal of the season, besting John-Michael Liles record for most goals by a rookie defenseman. As a result of his play, he was named a Calder Memorial Trophy finalist alongside Quinn Hughes and Dominik Kubalík. During the second round of the NHL playoffs, Makar surpassed the record for most points in a postseason by a rookie defenseman, before it was beaten by Hughes the following night. Following his rookie season, Makar was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year.
|World Junior Championships|
|2018 United States|
Makar was first selected by Hockey Canada to compete for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in 2015 and 2016. He was selected to the Tournament All-Star Team in both years and helped Canada West to a gold medal in 2015. Unable to defend the gold medal, Makar followed up by setting a tournament single-game record for points by a defenceman in 2016. Makar appeared for Team Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. He had one goal and one assist during the exhibition. His single goal came at a pivotal time on August 4, 2017, against Sweden, tying the game 4–4 in the third period. The marker re-energized the Canadians as they registered three more goals to pull off a 7–4 win.
Makar was selected to Canada’s under-20 team for the 2018 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York, winning gold. Makar finished the tournament leading all defenceman with three goals and eight points in seven games, and was the only Canadian named to the All-Tournament Team.
Following the World Juniors, Makar reportedly turned down an invite to join the Canadian senior team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in order to focus on his season at UMass, as he would have had to miss three weeks for the tournament.
Makar is the son of Gary Makar and Laura MacGregor. His younger brother Taylor plays at the junior level with the Brooks Bandits and his cousin Mark Logan also plays collegiate hockey, at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Tom Lysiak was his cousin on his father’s side. He is of Ukrainian descent on his father’s side.
Regular season and playoffs
|2012–13||Calgary Flames Bantam||AMBHL||33||3||19||22||22||—||—||—||—||—|
|2013–14||Calgary Flames Midget||AMHL||6||0||1||1||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|2014–15||Calgary Flames Midget||AMHL||34||7||16||23||14||2||0||0||0||0|
Awards and honours
|First All-Star Team||2015|
|South All-Rookie Team||2016|
|South All-Star Team||2016|
|Rookie of the Year||2016|||
|CJHL Rookie of the Year||2016|
|RBC Roland Mercier Trophy (MVP)||2016, 2017|
|RBC Top Defenceman||2016, 2017|
|RBC Top Scorer||2016|
|Most Outstanding Defenceman||2017|
|RBC CJHL Player of the Year||2017|||
|HE All-Rookie Team||2018|||
|HE Third All-Star Team||2018|||
|New England Rookie of the Year||2018|||
|HE Scoring Leader||2019|||
|HE First All-Star Team||2019|||
|HE Player of the Year (unanimous)||2019|||
|First Team All-American||2019|||
|Hobey Baker Award||2019|||
|New England Best Defenseman||2019|||
|New England Player of the Year||2019|||
|New England All-Star||2019|||
|CHN Player of the Year||2019|||
|All-CHN First Team||2019|||
|USCHO Player of the Year||2019|||
|NCAA Northeast Regional MVP||2019|||
|UMass Male Athlete of the Year||2019|
|WJC All-Tournament Team||2018|||
|Calder Memorial Trophy||2020|||
|NHL All-Rookie Team||2020|