Top prospect Cale Makar to suit up for Colorado Avalanche in Game 3, one day after signing contract
Makar, 20, won the Hobey Baker as college hockey's top player this season
The Cale Makar era is about to begin in Colorado.
College hockey's top prospect signed an entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday and joined the Avs for practice on Monday. He's expected to be inserted into the lineup immediately and will suit up when the Avalanche host the Flames in Game 3 of their opening round playoff series Monday night.
Makar is expected to slot in alongside Patrik Nemeth on the team's third pairing, and will likely get some power play time as well.
The 20-year-old Canadian defenseman was drafted fourth overall by the Avalanche in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He's coming off a sophomore season at UMass Amherst in which he won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA's top player and led the Minutemen to their first title game in program history. UMass finished as national runner-up after losing to Minnesota Duluth in the championship on Saturday night.
Makar picked up 16 goals and 49 points in 41 games for UMass and had a plus-59 goal differential (82 goals for, 23 goals against) while on the ice this year. With great skating ability, an outstanding two-way skill set and high hockey IQ, Makar is considered to be one of the purest blue line talents to come out of the college hockey ranks in years.
He'll join an Avalanche team that is currently knotted up 1-1 in their first-round playoff series with the West's top-seeded Flames. Makar is talented enough to have an immediate impact as they look to win their first playoff series since 2008.
However, Makar's signing is something of a gamble for the Avalanche. By playing him in a game this year, Colorado will burn the first year of his three-year, entry-level contract. Not only will that make Makar due to become a restricted free agent a year earlier, it also means the team will have to include him on its protected list for the Seattle 2021 expansion draft.
But signing Makar and surrendering that year of his ELC sends a message from the Colorado front office: They're committed to this year's group and believe that Makar can be enough of an impact player from the jump to warrant the sacrifice.
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