With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Colorado Avalanche have their sites squarely set on a second straight playoff birth. Colorado controls their own destiny as the currently sit one point up on the Arizona Coyotes for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Avs also have a game in hand.
It’s going to be easier said that done as Colorado’s schedule for the last week of the season is pretty tough. A back to back against St. Louis and Edmonton, followed by a home date with Winnipeg before finishing the season off with a trip to San Jose - and it looks like they’re going to have to do it without Mikko Rantanen.
Should the Avalanche make the playoffs, it’s sounding as though they might a pretty significant boost to their lineup.
Sunday night, head coach Jared Bednar was asked about a certain Hobey Baker finalist:
Jared Bednar says there is “every indication” Cale Makar could help the #Avs should they make the playoffs.— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) March 31, 2019
Bednar clarified that it will be up to management whether or not they sign Makar next week, but it sounds as thought he team is looking to treat their prized prospect the same way the Bruins did with Charlie McAvoy back in 2017.
Upon finishing his sophomore year at Boston University, McAvoy signed with Boston in time to play four AHL games before making his NHL debut for the Bruins. The Bruins lost in the first round to Ottawa but it gave McAvoy six games of invaluable experience that allowed him to hit the ground running in his rookie season. The 21-year old is now one of the best young defenders in the NHL and is the perfect road map for how the Avs should handle Makar.
The NCAA’s Frozen Four takes place next weekend in Buffalo, New York. Makar and his UMass Minutemen will face off against the Denver Pioneers in the semifinal on Thursday April, 11. The NHL playoffs will have already started, so if the Avalanche are involved, they won’t have Makar right away. If UMass makes the final, the earliest Makar would sign is April 14th. The team could be halfway through the first round by then.
If he signs after the Frozen Four, the Avalanche would have a few options for Makar. They could rush him right into the NHL lineup to help out the Avs in the first round, or they could give him a few days off before sending him to the Eagles for a playoff push that starts the following week later.
This is Cale Makar’s tournament— Mike Grinnell (@MikeGrinnell_) March 31, 2019
Last week, Quinn Hughes took the jump from the NCAA to the Vancouver Canuck lineup without missing a beat. He’s looked great in his first few NHL games and is showing why teams don’t need to hesitate when it comes to their blue chip prospects. Makar is at least as talented as Hughes, though the former might be more NHL ready. For the Avalanche it’s simply a matter of waiting for the UMass season to end.
Some fans might believe that you shouldn’t throw a raw rookie right into the NHL playoffs, but when the kid is as talented as Cale Makar caution should be thrown out the window. He would instantly make the Avalanche defense better would provide the kind of spark needed when a bottom seed is looking for a big upset in a playoff series.