Vancouver Canucks 2017 NHL Draft Profile: D Cale Makar

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Once again the Vancouver Canucks failed to secure a spot in the NHL playoffs. So, instead of competing for the Stanley Cup, Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the upcoming months to prepare next season’s roster. Now that the organisation is officially in a ‘transition period’, the 2017 NHL Entry Draft will be of utmost importance.

A four-game winning streak to start the 2016-17 season gave fans hope for the playoffs. But — blame the coach, the roster, injuries or anything else — unfortunately, the team was unable to play competitively for an entire season. With that, they are guaranteed another high draft pick this year.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming draft by profiling as many eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

This year’s draft seems wide-open, with no real consensus in any of the seven rounds. So, it will certainly be interesting to see who will put on a Vancouver Canucks jersey come June.

Today, let’s take a look at an undersized but incredibly talented defenceman: Cale Makar of the AJHL Brooks Bandits.

Name: Cale Makar

Position: Defense

Shoots: Right

Birthdate: 1998-10-30

Height, weight: 5’11”, 179 lbs 

Team, league: Brooks Bandits, AJHL

Stats (from 







#9 by
#15 by ISS Hockey
#5 by Future Considerations
#12 by McKeen’s Hockey
#9 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2.5/5, 5/5

NHL-potential: No. 1 defenseman

Draft Range: Top 10

Scouting report

"A quick little defenseman that is a complete and dangerous offensive package…a fantastic skater… an effortless stride and light feet…loses no speed in transitions and is difficult to lock down as he can change directions on a dime…excels at walking the line with various feigns and stutter steps to open up shooting and passing lanes…doesn’t posses a cannon but a solid shot with an ability to surprise goaltenders…has smooth hands and shows an ability to dangle through defenders…instincts and smarts with the puck are elite and he is a driver of offence…has high level awareness in all areas on the ice and has an innate understanding of how the play is developing…doesn’t have ideal size for a defenceman however and could use added strength for battles down low…defensive positioning can use refinement…overall a skilled offenseman who passes with purpose and accuracy and fits the mold of a puck moving defenceman at the NHL level.  (Future Considerations, November 2016)"


The fact that Cale Makar is called an “offenseman” in Future Considerations’s scouting report says it all. Makar is an extremely talented offensive player with insane puck skills, excellent skating and elite hockey sense. Similar to Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson in his draft year, you know Makar will be an outstanding offensive player — but you don’t know about his defensive game.

Makar has been described as possessing “(Mitchell) Marner-like skill on the back end” (via Grant McCagg). He is an absolutely outstanding puck-mover with incredibly quick and smooth hands. Makar has no trouble skating the puck from end to end, looking effortless in the process. The low level of play in the AJHL certainly helps him in that regard, but his skill is undeniable.

In today’s NHL, coaches want defensemen who can skate, move the puck and contribute offensively — Makar can do all of those things at an elite level. He probably won’t score 75 points in 54 NHL games like he did this season in juniors, but 75 NHL points (or more) in a full season will definitely be possible.


There are two main issues that may cause Makar to drop a bit. First, he doesn’t have ideal size for an NHL defender. At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, you are considered small for NHL standards. That doesn’t make the already-difficult task of stopping elite forwards like Alex Ovechkin any easier.

More from Draft

Then there is the fact that Makar is playing in a very weak league. The 2016 draft had Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro picked in the first round out of the BCHL, but the AJHL is considered yet a little weaker than BC’s counterpart. That doesn’t make Makar a worse player; it’s just extremely difficult to evaluate his abilities and compare them to his peers.

Any above-average major junior player can play defense in the AJHL. But will Makar be able to play defense at the NHL level? Perhaps more importantly, can he even score this much at the NHL level? That will be easier to predict next season, when Makar makes the jump to the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the NCAA — but teams have to make a decision before that.

Final Thoughts

There is no consensus on Makar when you look at the rankings of major scouting services. Future Considerations have him at No. 5, ISS Hockey have him at 15. Then there are some scouts who have him on their lists as the top defenseman, even higher than fifth — Grant McCagg has him at No. 2.

For the Canucks, Makar will certainly be interesting. Imagine them getting a player who will one day score like Karlsson — finally a true No. 1 defenseman with Norris Trophy potential. Especially in addition to Olli Juolevi, Ben Hutton, Troy Stecher and Nikita Tryamkin. The Canucks could be set on the blue line for many years to come, and who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Next: 2017 NHL Draft Profile Overview

But is it worth the risk? There are no guarantees about his defensive play, nor about his offensive abilities translating to the NHL.

Makar could be a home-run pick. But if he isn’t, the Canucks might one day look back wishing they had selected one of the many available centers instead.