Despite coming in under pressure from the first-round series against the Calgary Flames back in April, Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar has defied the odds and has been a big player for the team in just a blink of an eye.
In just two days after finishing his college hockey career, he quickly scored a goal against the Flames. Makar averaged more than a point per game in his first 20 regular-season NHL games, and he seemed odd as most of his rookie peers were just getting their feet wet – testing out the waters of the league.
He played smart for a rookie – he did not have a single penalty until his 31st game – where he was called for a delay of game after making a fluky puck-over-the-glass violation. He was just a 21-year-old, and he has been playing in top-four minutes in this season.
Back in last spring’s second-round series with the San Jose Sharks, the team had an off-day. It was a tough day as it was very rare to hear a rare example of Makar getting into a pickle.
Makar went on to live with teammate Matt Calvert and his family to cope up with the NHL transition from college. The family have set him up in the house’s finished basement, where Makar would recall a funny experience.
‘At night, they would lock the door to get downstairs because their (13-month-old) son, Beau, was getting tall enough where he could grab the door handle and try to go down’, Makar said. ‘And the stairs were pretty steep’.
When Makar woke up, he went up to get breakfast, and then he quickly realized that his door was locked from the outside. That worried him, but that was one of the little things that he enjoyed in life.
Through 37 games, he had 33 points along with four game-winning goals. He has been the front-runner for the Calder Trophy so far in this season, and everyone can see why. Colorado has been a team with big hopes of winning the Stanley Cup, and Makar is a big reason why the team is a strong contender.
The team also pushed for him to be voted in the all-star game along with the team’s leading scorer in Nathan MacKinnon. The team opted to use the hashtag #NateNeedsCale in order to hype up the voting, but he eventually lost to David Pierron as a Last Man In.
His teammates know how great he has been, and have given insights on the young player.
‘He did such a good job last playoffs, I guess that’s why they traded Tyson (Barrie) this summer’, said defenseman Sam Girard on the trade that brought centre Nazem Kadri to the Avs. ‘They knew Cale would be able to make an impact in the NHL right away as a top-four defenseman’.
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Kadri himself believes that Makar has won over a lot of fans in the city because he is a humble person. He thinks that Makar is a happy-go-lucky kid that is naturally kind.
‘He’s that good that he could have that kind of arrogance to him, but he’s really not that guy’, Kadri said. ‘He’s a good Western (Canadian) kid. He doesn’t need much to make him happy’.
‘There are so many things that are amazing about him. He’s such a freak athlete. He’s so fast and powerful’, MacKinnon said of Makar. ‘I think he’s one of the best D-men in the league already. But he’s got this quiet confidence about him’.