Next up in our series of profiles on top prospects for this year's draft is defenseman Cale Makar. If Miro Heiskanen isn't the top defenseman in the draft, then it could be Makar, a gifted skater who "is the most offensively skilled rearguard in the draft" according to the Red Line Report. Makar, who played for Brooks in the Alberta Junior Hockey League this past season and is slated to play college hockey next season, has been ranked as the third-best player in the draft by TSN's Craig Button and fifth-best by The Hockey News.
Height/Weight: 5-11/187 pounds
Born: October 30, 1998
Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta
2016-17 Team: Brooks (Alberta Junior Hockey League)
NHL Central Scouting: 9th among North American skaters
International Scouting Services: 9th among all skaters
TSN: 7th among all players
The Hockey News: 5th among all players
Red Line Report: 10th among all players
ESPN: 19th among all skaters
Makar was named regular season MVP, playoff MVP and the Most Outstanding Defenseman in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He led league defensemen and ranked sixth among all players in scoring with 75 points (24 goals, 51 assists) in 54 games with the Brooks Bandits. He led all defensemen and tied for seventh among all players in playoff scoring with 16 points (five goals, eleven assists) in 13 games as Brooks won the AJHL championship. He tallied six points (two goals, four assists) in five games and was named tournament MVP as Brooks finished second at the 2017 Royal Bank Cup. Makar was the top scorer at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge, registering eight points (four goals, four assists) in four games for Canada West.
Makar has committed to play at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for 2017-18. In 2015-16, he recorded 55 points (ten goals, 45 assists) in 54 games for Brooks of the AJHL and was named the league's Rookie of the Year. He registered 14 points (three goals, eleven assists) in 13 playoff games as Brooks won the league championship. He was the MVP of the 2016 Royal Bank Cup after tallying a tournament-high seven points (four goals, three assists) in five games.
"It's his hands and how well he can pass and handle the puck at that speed that really catches your eye. 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." - John Williams, NHL Central Scouting (NHL.com)
"Makes good decisions at very high speeds without hesitation and executes more often than not. Elite level skater that can go coast to coast in a hurry. His vision is exceptional. Can make impossible passes tape to tape. Potential top pairing NHL defenseman." - International Scouting Services (isshockey.com)
"Elite up-tempo style; able to knife through traffic while processing plays at high speed. Reads and reacts well to cross ice passes, jumping up to intercept soft or misplaced ones, then striking quickly in transition. Tremendous skater gets up and down the ice closing sizeable gaps, and is able to get back into position after deep pinches. … Freewheeling offensive dynamo always skates with head up looking to make one of his many imaginative passes, often surprising his own teammates." - Red Line Report 2017 Draft Guide (redlinereport.com)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.