The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has signed defenseman Cale Makar to a three-year, entry-level contract. He will join the Avalanche immediately for its Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Calgary Flames.
Makar, 20, just completed his sophomore season at the University of Massachusetts, helping the Minutemen reach the NCAA Frozen Four Championship Game. The Calgary, Alberta, native was named the winner of the 2019 Hobey Baker Award, becoming the first player in school history to win college hockey's top individual prize.
Selected by Colorado in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Makar was voted the Hockey East Player of the Year by unanimous selection and was named an AHCA First Team (East) All-American. He also received the Leonard Fowle Award as New England Player of the Year.
"Cale obviously had a tremendous season, winning the Hobey Baker and getting his team to the Frozen Four," said Avalanche Executive Vice President/General Manager Joe Sakic. "He is a game-changing type of player who made a lasting impact on the UMass hockey program. We are excited to have him join our team."
In addition to leading UMass to its first-ever Frozen Four, Makar also helped the Minutemen to their first No. 1 ranking in school history, set program records in wins and conference wins, and capture the team's first-ever Hockey East regular-season championship. Makar was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Northeast Regional.
Makar led Hockey East and ranked first nationally among all NCAA defensemen with 49 points (16g/33a) in 41 games. He was the first defenseman in history to lead Hockey East in overall scoring and broke the UMass single-season school record for points by a defenseman, topping the previous mark of 41 set by Thomas Poeck in 2003-04. His 1.20 points-per-game average ranked eighth among all NCAA skaters. Makar, the Minutemen's alternate captain, totaled 30 points (8g/22a) in 24 conference games (1.25 per contest), first among blueliners and second overall in the league. He was recognized as Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week three times this season, Player of the Week three times and was the Hockey East Player of the Month in October. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound rearguard was the first player in school history to win league player of the year.
As a freshman in 2017-18, Makar was a Hockey East Third-Team All-Star and was selected to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. He tallied 21 points (5g/16a) in 34 games, finishing second on the Minutemen in assists and fifth in scoring.
Makar helped Team Canada win the gold medal at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo. He was named to the tournament's all-star team after recording eight points (3g/5a) in seven games, tops among Canadian defensemen and tied for first among all blueliners.
The highest drafted defenseman in Avalanche history, Makar was named the 2016-17 Canadian Junior Hockey League's Most Valuable Player, Alberta Junior Hockey League Most Valuable Player and the AJHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman in his final season with the Brooks Bandits. He led all AJHL defensemen in scoring with 75 points (24g/51a) in 54 games, a total that finished sixth overall in the league. Makar added 18 points (5g/13a) in 13 playoff contests to help the Bandits to their second consecutive AJHL championship, earning playoff MVP honors. He was the AJHL's rookie of the year during the previous season in 2015-16.
Rated as the No. 1 North American defenseman in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for the 2017 draft, Makar was the highest-ever draft pick from the AJHL.