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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25; #5 Cale Makar

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Cale Makar? More like Cale Mak-Orr.

Canada v Sweden: Gold Medal Game - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eight writers and 320 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2018 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.

The top-rated prospect in the Avalanche system, Cale Makar has all the makings of an elite NHL right-handed defenseman.

Many Colorado fans had hopes of Makar making his NHL debut this fall, during the 2018-19 season, but in early April, Makar elected to return to UMass for his sophomore season. In a Daily Hampshire Gazette story from that time, Makar said he wanted one more year of development before making the jump. The biggest concerns in his game right now are his physicality, something that could be exploited in the NHL. One more year of college hockey could help Makar, who’s listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. UMass head coach Greg Carvel is instrumental in Makar’s growth; he previously held positions as assistant coach for Ottawa and Anaheim and knows what it takes to make it in the league.

But whenever Makar joins the Avalanche (presumably at the tail end of this season), he will turn some heads. In my estimation, Makar was the fastest player at the Avalanche Development Camp earlier this summer. He may have even had the best wrist shot of the players. That combination of straight-line speed and his ability to jump into the offense reminded me of a young Mike Green.

TSN ranked Makar as the 11th-ranked NHL prospect in February. In July, Scott Wheeler of The Athletic had Makar as No. 19 on their list.

Besides his stellar UMass freshman season, which placed him on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, Makar was dynamite in the World Junior Championships. Check out this goal (and the moves) from the tournament.

In the WJC, Makar registered three goals and three assists despite limited playing time (again, can be mostly attributed to his lack of physicality on his own end of the ice). He was named by Canada’s coaching staff as one of the top three players of theirs in the tournament.

I was tied for the high vote on Makar, as I can’t see him as anything less than an elite NHL defenseman. He fits the mold of the new-age blueliner to a T.

I understand some of the concerns with his defensive game, but those can be developed. It’s tough to teach raw speed and skill, and Makar has as much of those two things as any defenseman in the world not named Dahlin. (*editor’s not: Miro Heiskanen and Quinn Hughes have to be in that category as well)

The future of the Avalanche defense core is downright ridiculous. We’ve already seen Girard and Zadorov. Timmins and Makar are on the way. Gone will be the memories of the 2016-17 season in which the Avs allowed 278 goals.

Here is a full reel of Makar’s highlights from the last year.