CALGARY, Alta. – A bona fide standout at every level he has played, former Canadian Junior Hockey League Most Valuable Player honouree Cale Makar has received significant recognition from the National Hockey League.
Wednesday, the former Brooks Bandits (AJHL) standout defenceman was named one of three finalists for the NHL’s Calder Trophy, emblematic of its Rookie of the Year for 2019-20, along with Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks) and Dominik Kubalik (Chicago Blackhawks).
In his initial campaign with the Colorado Avalanche, who selected him in the first round, fourth overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, Makar produced 50 points in 57 outings on 12 tallies and 38 assists.
Those numbers were good enough to see him pace all league rookies in point-per-game average at 0.88 while finishing second in scoring among first year skaters in offensive production just behind Hughes, who had 53 points in 68 games played.
The list of CJHL alumni who have won the Calder during the past 25 years include Andrew Raycroft (Wellington Dukes, OJHL) in 2003-04, Barret Jackman (Trail Smoke Eaters, BCHL), Dany Heatley (Calgary Canucks, AJHL) in 1998-99 and Scott Gomez (Surrey Eagles, BCHL) in 1999-2000.
Makar himself boasts a plethora of awards from his days in the CJHL, featuring being tabbed its MVP and Top Defenceman back in 2017.
Among his other accolades include being selected the CJHL’s top rookie (2016), collecting two Royal Bank Cup now Centennial Cup) MVP honours (2016/2017), winning a gold medal with Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge (2015) and World Junior Hockey Championship gold for Canada (2018) as well as earning the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in all of U.S. college hockey (2019).
Of note, fellow Calder finalist Hughes had a very brief CJHL stint with the St. Michael’s Buzzers (OJHL) back in 2014-15.
Photo credit: icelevel.com