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A Six-Year Deal For Cale Makar In Colorado

DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the organization has signed defenseman Cale Makar to a six-year contract through the 2026-27 season.

Makar, 22, was a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2020-21.  He recorded 44 points (8g/36a) in 44 games, the only NHL blueliner to average a point-per-game last year.  Makar joined Steve Duchesne (82 points in 82 contests with Quebec in 1992-93) as the only defensemen in franchise history to average a point-per-game in a single season (among qualified players).  The 5-foot-11, 187-pound rearguard was the first defenseman to average a point-per-contest at age 22 or younger since Brian Leetch with the New York Rangers in 1990-91 (1.10).

Makar was just the third defenseman in Avalanche/Nordiques history to be named to the NHL First All-Star Team, joining Sandis Ozolinsh in 1996-97 and Ray Bourque in 2000-01.  He was the first Colorado player to make the First All-Star Team since Joe Sakic in 2003-04.  Only four other defensemen in the last 50 years have made the NHL First All-Star Team before their 23rd birthday (as of the end of the regular season): Erik Karlsson (21 years old in 2011-12), Dion Phaneuf (22 in 2007-08), Ray Bourque (19 in 1979-80 and 21 in 1981-82) and Denis Potvin (21 in 1974-75 and 22 in 1975-76).

Makar’s 44 points overall tied for fifth among NHL defensemen and made him the first blueliner in franchise history to record 40-plus points in each of his first two campaigns.  He finished second on the Avalanche in average ice time (24:19) and ranked fourth in both plus/minus rating (+17) and hits (49).  He went on to register 10 points (2g/8a) in 10 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, tied for fourth among NHL blueliners.

The Calgary, Alberta, native has recorded 94 points (20g/74a) in 101 career regular-season games, the sixth-highest total by a defenseman through 101 contests in NHL history.  Only Harry Cameron (115), Mark Howe (112), Leetch (99), Larry Murphy (97) and Phil Housley (95) had more.

Makar has added 31 points (7g/24a) in 35 career playoff games, the 10th most through 35 postseason contests by a blueliner in Stanley Cup Playoff history.  His 0.89 points-per-game average in the postseason is the seventh-highest number in league history (minimum 30 games played).

“In just over two seasons, Cale has already established himself as one of the premier defensemen in the National Hockey League,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President / General Manager Joe Sakic. “His ability to play in all situations and at both ends of the ice makes him truly unique and we are excited to have him anchor our blueline for years to come.”

Makar won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2019-20, becoming the first defenseman in Avalanche/Nordiques history to be named the league’s rookie of the year.  He was the sixth player in franchise history to win the award and the fourth since the team relocated to Denver, joining Chris Drury (1998-99), Gabriel Landeskog (2011-12) and Nathan MacKinnon (2013-14).  Peter Stastny (1980-81) and Peter Forsberg (1994-95) both won the Calder during the organization’s time in Quebec.

Makar was just the 12th defenseman in NHL history to win the Calder Memorial Trophy and only the second in the last 10 seasons, joining Aaron Ekblad in 2014-15.  In addition to the Calder, Makar was also named to the 2019-20 NHL All-Rookie Team, the first Avalanche defenseman to be selected to the All-Rookie Team since John-Michael Liles in 2003-04.

“I couldn’t be more excited knowing I’ll be calling Denver home for at least the next six years,” said Makar. “I will do everything in my power to bring a Stanley Cup to the best fans in the NHL.  My Avalanche teammates are an amazing group of guys, and I can’t thank them enough as they played such a huge part in enabling me to perform at my best.

“I want to extend my appreciation to the Kroenke family, Mr. Sakic and Mr. (Chris) MacFarland for their long-term confidence and commitment to me. I also want to say thanks to Steve, Brian, and Scott of Bartlett Hockey for their guidance and work on this deal.  I can’t wait to get back to work on October 13th at Ball Arena.”

Makar finished second among NHL rookies in scoring during the 2019-20 season with 50 points (12g/38a) in 57 games.  His 0.88 points-per-game average led all first-year players and tied for the third-highest total by a rookie defenseman in NHL history (min. 50 GP).  Only Leetch (1.04, New York Rangers, 1988-89) and Murphy (0.95, Los Angeles Kings, 1980-81) averaged more.

The right-shot defenseman led all rookie blueliners with 12 goals that year and tied for first among all rookies with four game-winning tallies.  Makar’s 38 assists ranked second among first-year skaters and he was first among rookie blueliners in even-strength goals (eight) and points (31) as well as power-play goals (four).  Makar led Colorado’s blueline in points, goals and assists, all franchise records for a rookie defenseman.  His four game-winning tallies were also a new franchise mark for a first-year backliner.

Makar went on to record 15 points (4g/11a) in 15 contests during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  His 15 points were the second most ever by an NHL rookie defenseman in a single postseason, trailing only Quinn Hughes’ 16 points (2g/14a) in 17 contests that same year.  Makar led all rookies that postseason in points-per-game (1.00) and plus/minus (+12), while ranking second in assists and third in both points and goals (tied).  He was just the fifth rookie ever—and the only defenseman on that list—to average at least a point-per-game during a single playoff year (min 15 GP), joining forwards Don Maloney (1979, New York Rangers), Dino Ciccarelli (1981, Minnesota), Marian Stastny (1982, Quebec) and Ville Leino (2010, Philadelphia).

Selected by Colorado in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Makar spent two seasons at the University of Massachusetts, where as a sophomore in 2018-19 he became the first player in school history to win the Hobey Baker Award.  He led the Minutemen to their first-ever No. 1 ranking that year and eventually a spot in the 2019 NCAA Frozen Four Championship Game.

Seventy-two hours after winning the Hobey Baker and 48 hours after playing in the NCAA title game, Makar scored his first NHL goal on his first shot in the opening period of Colorado’s Game 3 victory against Calgary in Round 1 on April 15, 2019.  He became the first defenseman in history to score his first career goal while making his NHL debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Despite playing just 10 games, Makar ended up leading all NHL rookie defensemen with six points (1g/5a) during the 2019 postseason.

Internationally, Makar helped Team Canada win the gold medal at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo.  He was named to the tournament’s all-star team after recording eight points (3g/5a) in seven games, tops among Canadian defensemen and tied for first among all blueliners.

The highest-drafted defenseman in Avalanche history, Makar was named the 2016-17 Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player, Alberta Junior Hockey League Most Valuable Player and the AJHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman in his final season with the Brooks Bandits.  He went on to become the highest drafted player in the history of the AJHL.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Paul's avatar

$9M AAV.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 07/24/21 at 09:37 AM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

Quite the investment for a guy who has just over 100 regular season games in 2 years and may as well be a 3rd forward

Posted by ilovehomers on 07/24/21 at 09:54 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

$9M AAV.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 07/24/21 at 10:37 AM ET

WOW!!!

He is worth it, but that’s a UFA deal for a RFA player,  Sakic didn’t get any team control priced into that deal, and the 6 year deal is what really sticks out at that price.  Not doing any fact checking, he’s 22 meaning under team control for 3 more years, so Sakic is paying him UFA money for 1/2 the term of this deal.

Normally not a fan of long term deals, because they’re usually done around 25/26 years old, and take the player into his 30s, but Makar is only 22, this deal puts him on the open market again when he’s 28?

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Window Seat on the Captain's Ship on 07/24/21 at 10:01 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

This is a fantastic deal for the Avs. There was a report his camp wanted $12mm per year. Anything under $10mm was a win in my eyes. He’s going to be one of the best defenseman in the world throughout this deal, and the cap will eventually go up and make this look like a steal.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 07/24/21 at 12:06 PM ET

d ca's avatar

As stated above this is a market setting deal as almost all of these years are RFA years…

they have Bowen Byram coming due in 2 years: think that contract won’t affect his? Oh btw, MacKinnon is due at the same time and Rantanen is already at $9M+.

It’s an internal cap issue and why Tampa won. There’s a number teams can’t go to and 10-11 has shown to be that number.

Posted by d ca on 07/24/21 at 04:52 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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