Q. You've been gaining momentum the past few weeks. Did you think you could go as high as No. 4?
CALE MAKAR: To be honest, I didn't really know. I was coming in here, and I keep telling people it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I never knew what was going to happen, so it was just fun to sit in the stands.
Q. Did you ever get any inkling that the Avalanche would pick you at No. 4?
CALE MAKAR: I think my meeting went pretty well with them at the Combine, but other than that, yeah, I couldn't tell you. It's just kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing.
Q. You're the highest-drafted AJHL player in NHL history. Were you aware of that before the draft, and what does that mean to you?
CALE MAKAR: It's pretty special. I'm going to a team that Joe Colborne, he was the other AJHL pick way back when, so it's pretty special, and it's very humbling to think about, for sure.
Q. Has it sunk in that you're in an NHL jersey right now?
CALE MAKAR: To be honest with you, I don't think it's quite sunk in yet. It seems cliché, but it's kind of speechless right now. You don't know what's going to happen, and now that it finally does, you don't know what to feel.
Q. Do you guys have an option of being in the stands or being in the green room there?
CALE MAKAR: I didn't get that option. I was in the stands right from the get-go.
Q. You didn't have a choice?
CALE MAKAR: No.
Q. How much do you know about this team's history?
CALE MAKAR: Not much, to be honest. I know that Joe Sakic played there way back when, but other than that, I haven't looked up this team too much.
Q. Are you still committed to going to UMass?
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, 100 percent. That's my plan for next year, and I couldn't be more excited to do that.
Q. Why is UMass the best step for you right now?
CALE MAKAR: I think they brought in the new coaches with [Greg] Carvel, [Jared] DeMichiel and [Ben] Barr there, and they're going to be exceptional. I think we're bringing in pretty much 11 new freshmen, and it's going to be a whole new culture there, and I'm just excited for the challenge and to get started with something new.
Q. Did you waver at all when they had the coaching change?
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, not at all. I think that I committed obviously under the old coaches, and when that coaching change happened, I just kind of wanted to wait it out. I wanted to stay loyal and see what happened, and I knew they were going to hire somebody great, and I think I made the right decision with sticking there because, like I said, Carvel and the assistants there are going to be immensely incredible for my development, I think.
Q. Can you take us through this day leading up to this moment, how you were feeling as this moment got closer?
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, there was a little bit of anxiousness, excitement and nervousness, my heart started pumping throughout the day. But I've been told by guys, [Tyson] Jost and Jake Bean and stuff, recent friends, and just to kind of take it all in. You're not going to get to experience this ever again, so I'm here for the experience, and I've had a great couple days here in Chicago so far.
Q. There have been several scouts who said you may end up being the best player in this draft when all is said and done. How does that make you feel?
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, it's just a prediction, I guess, in a way. And the way that I see this draft is it's not going to matter where you get picked. People aren't going to look at that. They're going to look at what you did after the draft. Nobody is going to care what you did before, so it's all about how you're going to carry yourself afterward and where you're going to go, so that's kind of the way I look at it.
Q. What do you think makes you the player you are?
CALE MAKAR: Just steady progress. I think being consistent as a person and as a player. Obviously my teammates helped a lot and our coaches there, Ryan [Papaioannou] and Scotty [Cunningham] really helped with how our team developed throughout the year, but I think just the consistency was the big thing for me to find, and I was able to just drive off that.
Q. Did you have other options? The obvious question, why UMass instead of a different program? Did you have other options available to you?
CALE MAKAR: At the time I honestly didn't have those big, big options, but I had options from a few other schools, and it was just kind of the feeling that I had, the personal touch of UMass. I had been down to the campus, and I really liked it there. You know what you're going to get when I go there.
Some of the bigger schools you kind of get stuck in the lineup sometimes, but I know when I go to UMass, my goal is to be a No. 1 defenseman there, and I know they're going to give me every opportunity that I can to pursue that.
Q. Have you kind of explored their recent history? They've had four or five tough seasons in a row. It seems like they should be better than that, they should be able to recruit kids from a pretty good hockey area. Is that something you've thought about?
CALE MAKAR: Definitely. Obviously, as I was saying, I committed under the old coaches, and the new coaches are taking the program in a different direction. They're bringing in lots of guys this year, and I know all those guys are great players, and I met one of them at the Combine, [Mario] Ferraro, and he seems like a great guy and a great player, as well, from what I've heard. I know it's going to be a different team on the ice next year, and I'm excited for the challenge of being able to hopefully compete in Hockey East.
Q. Are there NHL players you've modeled your game after?
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, I'd say somewhat of an Erik Karlsson, Shayne Gostisbehere mix. I've watched quite a bit of those players coming up, especially this year.
Q. I know the Canucks had tremendous interest in you, you interviewed really well with them. Colorado has needs on the back end. Did you have a feeling you were going to Colorado?
CALE MAKAR: To be honest, no, not at all. Like I was saying, I met with them at the Combine, but they didn't give me any indication that they were taking me for sure. I was just kind of coming here and waiting to see what happened.
Q. Can you learn off a back end like that when you think of what they have at that position?
CALE MAKAR: Definitely. Like I was saying, I don't know a lot about the team, but I know that they have Tyson Barrie and obviously they have guys that have lots of experience in the NHL and they're guys that every rookie kind of needs to lean on, so I'm excited for the experience just to kind of go through this all, and yeah, just kind of see where it takes me.
Q. When you think of where the game is going, do you think it's kind of the right time for you in your career when you see where the game is going?
CALE MAKAR: I think so. I think watching Nashville through the playoffs, you see how mobile and kind of speed and agile their D are, going back on pucks or whether it be jumping up in the rush or mobility in the zone, and I think my speed and my hockey sense are two things that are my biggest parts of my game. I'm excited to kind of hopefully pursue that path in the NHL.
Q. How many of your buddies sent you that ESPN ranking that came out that had you No. 1?
CALE MAKAR: Quite a few, I think. I'm not a guy that goes out and looks at any of that stuff, especially in the season, but all my buddies would kind of tell me that, so yeah.
Q. Does it feel like you've got to get bigger, stronger? Is that No. 1 on your list of things to do?
CALE MAKAR: Definitely. I think that's why NCAA is going to be a great path for me, and especially UMass. You're going to get the time off the ice, I'm going to get hopefully a little bit bigger, and like I said, a little bit of time there is going to hopefully shape me into an NHL player.
Q. You have no idea of the timetable, whether it's one year, two years, three years, four years?
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, it's going to obviously depend on how I develop. My intention is to play in the NHL when I'm ready, and whenever I feel I'm ready and whenever the organization feels I'm ready. Hopefully I can make that jump.
Q. What's your mindset? Do you set a target date in your head, a point where you want to be playing in the show?
CALE MAKAR: I think, like I said, it's how I develop, but I think one or two years at UMass and whenever I feel I'm ready, I want to make the jump straight to the NHL.
Q. Did you talk with Colorado at all about going to UMass next year?
CALE MAKAR: To be honest, I can't really remember. Like I was saying, I met with them in the Combine and it probably came up in the interview, but I think they accepted the fact that I'm going to UMass.
Q. Recent history at UMass, I would imagine there are motivating things like you're sick and tired of hearing about BC every year?
CALE MAKAR: Yeah, you're going to a place that's going to have a great culture already. They're going to bring a lot more fans in here with the new team, and you look at some of the alums that they produced, whether it be [Justin] Braun, [Jonathan] Quick and then [Conor] Sheary even, Cup champion, it's going to be an exciting time for the team, I think.