Going into last year’s NHL Entry Draft, Cale Makar was ranked anywhere from fourth to ninth among the major draft lists. When he arrived at the combine in Buffalo, he was a seen as a pretty big question mark among fans, given that he played in the AJHL and was known mostly for being a great offensive defenseman but a guy that beat up on lesser competition. During his week at the Combine, Makar showed that he was among the best physical athletes in the draft class and when the fourth pick in the draft came around the Colorado Avalanche didn’t hesitate to select him.
We knew he was a great skater - that was evident from watching ay sort of tape on the kid- but what we didn’t know was just how good an athlete he was. While the off-ice portion of the combine is often criticized for not really being relevant to how good a hockey player these kids are, one thing it does tell us is how they compare to each other physically.
Makar finished in the top-10 in a number of the physical tests last year. He had the 8th best score in the Fatigue Index for the Wingate Cycle Ergometer Test:
Athlete warms up by pedalling at a low resistance for two minutes. To start the test, the athlete pedals at a progressively quicker cadence so that by the time the designated workload has been reached, he is pedaling at his maximal capacity. The athlete pedals at his maximal capacity against the designated workload for 30 seconds. Revolutions are recorded for each five second period, then power output is calculated for both the peak five second period and the 30 second duration.
He had the 5th best score in the Jump Station:
An AccuPower Dual Force Plate will be used to objectively measure the direction, strength and timing of the forces the athlete produces during hockey related movement. The test will provide immediate feedback allowing teams to assess movement efficiency, physical performance and injury potential… The test will include six separate maximum effort vertical jumps separated by 10 seconds of rest. The three best jumps are taken and averaged to get the final scoring and rankings.
He was the 8th fastest moving to his left and 3rd fastest moving to his right in the Pro Agility Test:
The 5-10-5 yard shuttle (or 15-30-15 feet) evaluates multi-directional speed, agility and whole body reaction plus control. Each player will perform one sequence starting to the right and one sequence starting to the left.
And he finished 10th in the Standing Long Jump:
Athlete stands with feet slightly apart with toes behind the jumping line. Using an arm swing to assist, the athlete jumps as far as possible.
All in all, a rather impressive physical specimen.
Not only was Makar impressive during the physical testing, he proved that he was a well-spoken young man that almost certainly made a few fans during his interviews with 27 of the 31 NHL teams.
While it’s not the be-all and end-all, the NHL Combine does serve a useful function - especially the interview portion. Guys like Ryan Merkley are going to have to explain their reputation to NHL executives that have heard poor things. On the opposite end of the spectrum, guys that ooze confidence and leadership like Rasmus Sandin could boost their draft stock significantly by winning over the right GM.
This week, as the top prospect in the 2018 draft convene in Buffalo, they’re going to have a chance to win over a few scouts the way Gabriel Landeskog did back in 2011. If nothing else it will give fans a little more to talk about as we approach the June 22nd draft.