BUFFALO -- Brooks defenseman Cale Makar, No. 9 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, is projected as one of the elite offensive defensemen available in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Makar (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) led all defensemen and finished sixth among all skaters in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with 75 points (24 goals, 51 assists) in 54 games and was named top defenseman by the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
The Calgary native was also named AJHL most valuable player and top defenseman. He had 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 13 playoff games to help Brooks to a second straight AJHL championship and six points (two goals, four assists) in five games to help the Bandits to a second-place finish in the Royal Bank Cup, Canada's National Junior A championship series.
"It's his hands and how well he can pass and handle the puck at that speed that really catches your eye," said John Williams of NHL Central Scouting. "He moves it with great vision and good lateral mobility, which is so important in today's game. It's not just straight-ahead speed, it's being able to create time and space in small areas and he does that exceptionally well."
Makar is committed to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2017-18 and his Canadian Hockey League rights are held by Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League.
Here are five other things to know about him:
1. He is committed to developing in college
Makar: "The plan is to attend the University of Massachusetts-Amherst next season. I believe college is the right route for me in terms of development. That's where I stand on that issue. The development path is similar to the AJHL where you play less games, but have more time to work on off-ice stuff in terms of reaching your physical ability and gaining greater strength."
Video: Cale Makar Q&A from the NHL Scouting Combine
2. He's expected to be the highest AJHL player selected in the NHL Draft
Camrose forward Joe Colborne holds the record for being the highest-drafted player from the league after being chosen No. 16 by the Boston Bruins in 2008. Camrose defenseman Dylan Olsen was the last AJHL player selected in the first round, going No. 28 to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009.
Makar: "It would definitely be special [as the highest-drafted AJHL player] but people aren't going to care about what you did before the draft if you don't succeed after," Makar said.
3. He appreciates that NHL clubs have a greater interest in mobile, fast defenders
Makar: "One of my best traits is speed on the back end, being able to retrieve pucks quickly, transition and jump up into the rush. The game is going more towards a hockey sense, speed type of game. I think that's where I'm going to fit in really well. Every level you reach, the speed is faster and there's more physicality. I realize I'll need to work on defensive aspects in order to be trusted in defensive situations like penalty kill, but I'm determined to do that."
4. He's been compared to Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson
Makar: "At the beginning of the season, lots of people started comparing me to Karlsson. I knew of him, but never really watched him. So I started watching lots of film and realized we have similar tendencies. Just in terms of walking the line, breaking the puck out, and the way we jump up into the rush and read plays. He's also a great leader and that's a quality you need to have in order to be a champion. I didn't wear a letter on my jersey [at Brooks], but I think people respected and listened to me when I spoke. It's definitely a big trait to have as a character-type guy."
5. He is calculated when taking risks
Makar: "I think I'm fairly high-risk at certain times in terms of jumping into the play. Obviously my responsibility is to be back because, as a defenseman, I need to be. There may be opportunities for me to jump into the rush and there could be more, but I think there are certain times to take risks and other times you need to kind of stay back."