Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2017 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Cale Makar.
Playing in the AJHL, defenceman Cale Makar is flying under the radar to most hockey fans. However, he had a real coming-out party at the 2016-17 World Junior A Hockey Championship, where he was a tournament all-star. Makar captained Team Canada West and scored four goals and four assists in just four games. He was also part of the 2015-16 team that won the gold medal in the tournament, though he was in a lesser role. Add in a tournament MVP, top defenceman, and tournament top scorer with seven points in five games at the 2016 RBC Cup, and Makar is not flying under the radar when it comes to the scouts. He is committed to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst next season.
Cale Makar Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #7
Defense — Shoots Right
Born Oct 30 1998 — Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Height 5’11 — Weight 179 lbs [181 cm / 81 kg]
Makar is a little undersized but has impressed with outstanding skating ability. He is quick in both directions. He has very good speed and acceleration. However, it is in his agility and edgework where he really shines. Makar has excellent lateral mobility and can cover a ton of ice. His pivots are crisp and clean, allowing him to cover 360 degrees of ice. He can pinch deep, or join the rush, and also get back defensively in the AJHL. While Makar may not be able to take quite as many chances at higher levels of hockey, his skating skill should continue to be a big advantage in his game. Makar also has very good core strength and balance, making him tough to knock off the puck.
Makar can be an offensive force. He has a very good wrist shot, as well as a decent slap shot. A bit more strength on his frame could make that slapshot an even bigger weapon in his arsenal. Makar’s skating and lateral agility allow him to walk the line, and open up passing and shooting lanes. He understands how to get his shot through traffic, as well as how to keep it low and on net. This helps his teammates to set up screens, capitalize on rebounds, and make deflections. He also has excellent stickhandling abilities and can rush the puck from end to end. Makar can also join the rush as a trailer, picking good opportunities to add offence from the back end.
Makar is a very intelligent player. He shows a high hockey IQ and makes smart plays both with and without the puck. Add in strong passing skills and excellent vision, and Makar is a threat to generate a scoring chance nearly every time he touches the puck.
Makar is strong positionally, and effective in gap control. He takes away opponents’ time and space and angles them well to the outside. He also has a quick stick, allowing him to poke check opponents and to create turnovers. Once he has the puck, he transitions it quickly out of his zone and starts the attack. Makar isn’t the most physical defenceman though. He could stand to add some muscle to his frame, in order to compete against the bigger, stronger players he will face at higher levels.
Projection and Comparison
Makar has the skill to be a top-pairing defenceman in the NHL. The major question marks on him right now are all about how well his game will translate at higher levels. He is an absolutely dominant player in the AJHL though, and if he continues to develop, his ceiling is very high. In terms of a comparison, and this is stylistic, and not talent-based, Makar plays the game like Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our board.
Main Photo Courtesy of Hockey Canada.