When I put together my scouting reports for potential picks at No. 3 Cale Makar just missed the cut.
In fact, I had narrowed it down to a dozen players and Makar was 13th on my list.
I still don’t think Makar is an option at No. 3 for Dallas, but he could be part of the Stars plans with Dallas general manager Jim Nill traveling to watch him live at the Royal Bank Cup, the Junior A Championships, and Nill’s recent comments that he’d be willing to trade the No. 3 pick.
The AJHL has produced NHL defensemen before. Colton Parayko was an AJHL find by the Blues and looks like a dominant long-term defender for St. Louis.
Makar is much smaller than the monstrous Parayko and checks in at 5-foot-11, 179 pounds and he won’t be drafted for his size. Makar’s strength is with the puck and on the offensive end. As the NHL continues to progress and puck-moving defensemen become more important (just take a look at the Western Conference Finals between the Ducks and Predators) players like Makar are going to have more value.
Makar skates well and has good vision when carrying the puck. He can either carry the puck through the neutral zone or make the lead pass to create a chance. In the offensive zone Makar has a strong shot and can quarterback a power play. Makar has the lateral movement to walk the blue line and create open looks for his teammates, while he makes very few turnovers in the offensive zone.
Makar had a strong showing at the World Junior A challenge and captained the Canada West team. But there are still concerns about the level of competition he played against.
It’s one thing to look dominant against Junior A, but will Makar be able to make similar plays and quarterback an offense against tougher competition?
Whichever team drafts Makar should get a partial answer to that question next season when the righty enrolls and plays college hockey at UMass-Amherst.
And the college route seems like the perfect fit for Makar. He’ll have a chance to jump into games against older competition, while he’ll also have an opportunity to hit the gym and add muscle to his frame.
Patience is going to be required with Makar, but his skillset and long-term projection could be a valuable addition to any team as the NHL, which is a copycat league, continues to embrace speedy puck-moving defensemen.