For Edmonton Oilers fans, the 2017 draft is going to be a little different. Edmonton’s success in the standings means the team will land in the early to mid-20s, meaning guessing Edmonton’s pick in the first round is going to be a moving target. For our first prospect this year, I have chosen Cale Makar of the Brooks Bandits (AJHL). As was the case one year ago with BCHL players Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro of the Penticton Vees, this is a prospect playing in a Tier 2 league with top-end talent.
Nice to see Cale Makar getting the recognition he deserves… he is an outstanding player with serious potential. So fun to watch
— Mark Sauer (@MarkSweetnSauer) January 5, 2017
There is no guarantee Makar makes it to Edmonton’s draft position—in fact, early mocks have him going in the middle of the first round. Mike Morreale of NHL.com has him going in the top half of the draft:
14. Los Angeles Kings - Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)
Makar (5-11, 179), winner of the 2015-16 Alberta Junior Hockey League and Canadian Junior Hockey League Rookie of the Year, has continued his stellar play and development. He's a dynamic skater with quickness and elusiveness with or without the puck.
There is a long way to go before draft day, but Makar is drawing a lot of interest from NHL prospect followers. Adam Kimelman, also of NHL.com, has him even higher:
10. Tampa Bay Lightning - Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)
The right-shot defender (5-11, 179) has dominated the Alberta Junior Hockey League and was just as good when he stepped up a level to play for Canada at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge, with four goals and four assists in four games. Scouts have been impressed by his speed with and without the puck, which allows him to lead the rush then get back into the defensive zone if play turns the other way.
Top 2017 defenseman draft prospect Cale Makar showing off his combo of speed, skill, vision at WJAC pic.twitter.com/FGaszvMVIX
— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) December 21, 2016
EXPERT SCOUTING REPORTS
— Tyler King (@tyler_king) January 9, 2017
Makar is an interesting player, because his size (5.10, 175) is the first thing you notice about him. In fact, it is a testament to his skills that he gets mentioned in the first round with his lack of NHL size. Makar is a brilliant skater, and he is an expert puck handler and passer.
The most impressive line about him came from a Bob McKenzie article about Makar a couple of weeks before Christmas. McKenzie heard from scouts who were following the young man at the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, while the rest of the junior hockey world was paying attention to Canada’s national junior team selection camp for the 2017 World Junior Championship in Blainville, Quebec.
Scout one: “Makar should be in Blainville, not Bonnyville.”
- Scout two: “He should be there. He would be the Canadians’ best defenceman for the World Junior Championship.”
WHAT ABOUT THE OILERS?
Makar’s NHL equivalency (82gp, 17 points) does not imply he is going to be a brilliant puck mover on the McDavid power play, but the AJHL equivalency hasn’t seen many like Makar in the past. It is also worth comparing Makar’s NHLE with the of BCHL star Dante Fabbro (82gp, 16 points) one year ago.
Chances are Makar’s name gets called early and the Oilers never get a chance at the brilliant young defenseman. However, if he is still on the board, don’t be surprised if Peter Chiarelli calls his name at the 2017 draft.