With Cale Makar’s first full NHL season likely wrapped up, let’s take a look at how well the Colorado Avalanche’s rookie defenseman did in his first year.
The Colorado Avalanche made a bold choice in the 2017 NHL Draft. With the fourth overall pick, they went a bit off the board by drafting defenseman Cale Makar, who was ranked the ninth-best North American skater at the time. Though he was the highest ranked defenseman on the board at the time, it was still a somewhat questionable move.
Since then, Makar has made the Avalanche look really smart. He has emerged as one of the gems of the 2017 draft. If you redrafted the 2017 draft today, there’s a good chance Makar would go somewhere in the top three. At worst, he’d still be fourth.
After making an impressive debut during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Avalanche had high hopes for Makar going in to the 2019-20 NHL season. Not only did he meet those high expectations, he exceeded them.
Had it not been for injuries, Makar might be the Calder Trophy favorite. And he still might win it, though Quinn Hughes is certainly deserving as well. I’d personally have Hughes ever so slightly ahead of Makar because of the huge role Hughes played for the Canucks, but Makar would be a deserving winner as well.
Makar’s rookie season was a historic one, as he set franchise records for points, goals, and assists from a rookie defenseman. But just how good was Makar in his rookie season? Here are three takeaways from his brilliant rookie season.
1. Power Play Proficiency
Makar’s calling card has always been his ability to create offense on power plays. He has been outstanding at the point at every level, so the Avalanche assumed it would translate to the NHL, and it has.
In his first rookie season, Makar is tied for ninth in the league among defensemen in power play points with 19. He’s also tied for ninth with Victor Hedman in power play goals with four. However, this was largely due to getting a lot of power play time. Only three defensemen averaged more power play time per game than Makar. Among the 87 defensemen who spent at least 50 minutes on the power play, he ranked 23rd in power play points per hour.
That’s still pretty good, but it’s not elite. Makar has all the tools to be an elite power play quarterback. While his raw numbers are a bit deceiving, he still had a very nice year on the power play.