Though he has a couple of seasons of junior eligibility remaining, the time has come for Cale Makar to move on.
Makar, an 18-year-old defenceman, has spent the past two seasons starring with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits.
His accomplishments include being named the most valuable player in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (comprised of 10 Junior A leagues from across the country) for the 2016-17 campaign.
Makar was also selected as the MVP at the national RBC Cup tournament in each of the past two seasons.
Makar is expected to commence his NCAA career with the UMass Amherst Minutemen this fall. But prior to that, he’ll get a glimpse into his future as he is set to be an early first-round selection at the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft, set for June 23-24 in Chicago.
International Scouting Services (ISS) Hockey has Makar listed as the ninth best skater available in the draft.
Jameson Ewasiuk, an ISS Hockey scout, believes Makar has peaked in junior hockey.
“It's obvious that he is too good for this level of competition,” Ewasiuk wrote of Makar in the ISS Hockey Draft Guide. “[He is] dynamic offensively and he exploits space incredibly.”
Dennis MacInnis, the ISS Hockey Director of Scouting, is also rather impressed with Makar’s ability.
“Controls the play when he has the puck on his stick, and has the ability to carry the puck into the zone,” he is quoted as saying of Makar.
“Beautiful skater with huge explosiveness and great edge use. This is a special player in almost every area of the game.”
Another ISS Hockey scout, Brent Parker, also speaks highly of Makar but adds there is still room for improvement in his game.
Parker wrote: “Dynamic offensive player who plays with energy and passion. Wants the puck on his stick when game is in the balance. Great skater who has good balance and agility. Needs to work on his defensive zone coverage as he chases the puck at times. Top end player with loads of upside.”
Besides its ranking and assessments of players, the ISS Hockey Draft Guide also includes lists of its Best and Worst players in various categories. Five players are listed in each category.
Makar is atop the lists in two of those categories, Best Skater and Best Offensive Defenceman.
Makar was an impact player in both of his seasons with the Bandits.
During his rookie campaign, he averaged more than a point per game, racking up 55 points, including 10 goals, in 54 regular season outings. He then added 14 points (3G, 11A) in 13 playoff outings as he led Brooks to an AJHL title.
Makar also had seven points in five games for the Bandits at the 2016 RBC Cup tournament, which was hosted by the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Brooks was eliminated from that event following a semifinal loss.
Makar also led the Brooks club to another AJHL title this season. For starters, he accumulated 75 points, including 24 goals, in 54 regular season matches. And then he earned 16 points in 13 postseason contests.
Makar then led the Bandits to another RBC Cup appearance this past month, at the national tournament held in Cobourg, Ont.
He had eight points in five games. The Bandits sat out Makar and some other key players in their final round-robin match as they had already clinched a spot in the tournament semifinals.
Makar and his teammates made it a step further than they did a year ago at the RBC Cup. But they lost this year’s championship final 3-2 in overtime to the host Cobourg Cougars.
Other CJHL Prospects to Watch:
It’s a safe bet that Brooks Bandits’ star defenceman Cale Makar will be the first player from the Canadian Junior Hockey League chosen in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
Makar is expected to be an early first-round pick – possibly one of the first 10 players chosen – at the June 23-24 draft, which will be staged in Chicago.
Makar, who starred the past two years with the Bandits, members of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, is ranked as the ninth best skater available by The International Scouting Services (ISS) Hockey in its draft guide.
But several other players from the Junior A leagues that make up the CJHL can also expect to hear their names called at the draft.
Besides Makar, ISS Hockey has six other CJHL players ranked in its guide, which includes 180 skaters and 20 goaltenders.
After Makar, another AJHL player, defenceman Ian Mitchell from the Spruce Grove Saints, is the next higherst CJHL player ranked by ISS Hockey.
Mitchell, who has spent the past two seasons with Spruce Grove, is listed as the 79th best skater available.
Meanwhile, defenceman Cameron Crotty of the Brockville Braves, is one of two Central Canada Hockey League players in the final ISS Hockey rankings.
Crotty is ranked 91st. The other ranked player from the CCHL is Bobby Dow, a right winger with the Kemptville 73’s, who is ranked 171st.
And there are also three players from the Ontario Junior Hockey League that are included in the ISS Hockey rankings.
They are Oakville Blades’ teammates Matthew Kellenberger and Bryce Misley and Philip Lagunov of the Burlington Cougars.
Kellenberger, a defenceman, is ranked 165th while Misley, a centre, is listed at the 167th spot.
Lagunov, a centre, is not too far behind the pair of Blades as he is ranked 169th.
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