CHICAGO--The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club selected defenseman Cale Makar (mah-KAR) with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft tonight at the United Center in Chicago.
Makar, 18, is the highest-ever draft pick from the Alberta Junior Hockey League, surpassing current Avalanche forward Joe Colborne (Camrose Kodiaks), who was selected by the Boston Bruins with the 16th overall pick in 2008.
The 5-foot-11, 187-pound defenseman spent the 2016-17 season with the Brooks Bandits, where he led all AJHL defensemen with 75 points (24 goals, 51 assists) in 54 games, which also ranked sixth among all skaters. He added 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 13 playoff contests to help the Bandits to their second consecutive AJHL championship, earning playoff MVP honors.
He was named the 2016-17 Canadian Junior Hockey League's Most Valuable Player and was the AJHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman and Most Valuable Player.
A Calgary, Alberta, native, Makar registered eight points (three goals, five assists) in five games to help Brooks capture the 2017 Western Canada Cup and received CJHL top defenseman honors. The Bandits finished runners up in the Royal Bank Cup, the Canadian Junior A championship series, but Makar received the Roland Mercier Trophy as tournament MVP, becoming the first player in the nearly 50-year history of the award to earn it in back-to-back seasons.
"We're excited to add Cale to our organization," said Avalanche director of amateur scouting Alan Hepple. "He's a very good skater, a very good puck-mover. Very good puck management. Offensive upside with a great shot and great vision."
Internationally, Makar served as captain of Team Canada West at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge, totaling eight points (four goals, four assists) in four games, including a single-game record five points by a defenseman.
Born Oct. 30, 1998, the right-shooting defenseman is the Avalanche's fourth top-five draft pick since the franchise relocated from Quebec, as the club chose Nathan MacKinnon first overall in 2013, Gabriel Landeskog second overall in 2011 and Matt Duchene third overall in 2009. This is the sixth time that the Avs have picked in the top 10, having previously selected MacKinnon, Landeskog, Duchene, Mikko Rantanen (10th in 2015) and Tyson Jost (10th in 2016).
Makar was rated as the ninth-best North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for the 2017 draft.
The NHL Draft resumes tomorrow (Saturday, June 24) with rounds 2-7 beginning at 8 a.m. MT on the NHL Network.