The fourth overall selection in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft, Cale Makar is coming off a very strong performance at the World Junior Hockey Championship and according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, he has done enough to at least get his name into the conversation.
“I think Cale Makar’s name is at least on the radar for consideration for the Canadian Olympic team that will be announced on Thursday. Not by any means is he a slam dunk, but the fact that the’s got a dynamic quality to his game, he could be a powerplay specialist”
As McKenzie mentioned, Makar is a very dynamic player and has a game custom built for the bigger Olympic ice. He is an incredible skater, especially with the puck. It’s worth noting that Makar plays on an Olympic-sized ice surface during his home games at UMass, so the extra room is something that wouldn’t be foreign to him.
Makar led all defensemen in scoring at the World Juniors - doing the majority of his damage on the powerplay. His role with the Olympic team would be very similar - playing minimally at even strength as the 7th defenseman that helps to quarterback one of the two powerplay units.
“After being at the World Junior Championship, where he was the 7th defenseman, where he didn’t get much 5 on 5 ice time, how eager would he be to leave his school UMass, and development time there, to go for what would ostensibly be a part-time role with the Canadian Olympic team.”
McKenzie mentioned that Makar might have a decision to make if he is selected for Team Canada - the Colorado Avalanche would likely have a say as well. He has already missed a good chunk of his development time this season being with the Canadian Junior team, would it make sense to miss even more in order to play a small role at the Olympics.
Third straight game with a goal for Cale Makar pic.twitter.com/tLcmEAPxiN— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 2, 2018
It’s probably likely that Makar would go to PyeongChang if selected, especially since it looks likely that he isn’t going to be back at UMass next season anyway.
It’s highly likely that Makar was set to sign a professional contract at the end of his freshman season anyway. If that’s the case, more time away from school now isn’t a huge deal.
The Olympic men’s hockey tournament begins on February 14th and we will know if Cale Makar has been selected for the team tomorrow.
Many fans were very disappointed when it was announced that NHL players wouldn’t be playing at the Olympics. Now it looks like Avalanche fans might have reason to care about the tournament after all.