Massachusetts sophomore defenseman Cale Makar signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.
Saturday night, Makar and the Minutemen lost, 3-0, to Minnesota-Duluth in the national championship game. Friday, Makar won the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top player. He finished his season with 16 goals and 33 assists for the Minutemen.
The Avalanche drafted Makar fourth overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft after a dominant stint with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
After a strong but uneven freshman season, Makar returned to Amherst for a second season and quickly established himself — and his team — as one of the nation’s best.
Makar led the Minutemen to a program record 31 wins, their first-ever Hockey East regular-season championship, the No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and Saturday’s national title game. On top of the Hobey Baker Award, Makar was named Hockey East Player of the Year and a First Team All-American.
After losing Saturday’s national championship game, UMass coach Greg Carvel had strong praise for Makar, beyond his playing abilities.
“When you get a kid like Cale, you feel a lot of responsibility as a coach to develop him and make sure — he could have gone anywhere, could have done anything. But he chose to stay loyal to his commitment to UMass. I took it and our staff took it as a huge responsibility,” Carvel said.
“He didn’t look at UMass as a steppingstone that he was going to fly by. He looked at UMass as a very important part of his life. I gave him so much credit because he did everything absolutely right, every last part of it. That’s why I’m so happy that he won the Hobey Baker award because he’s absolutely what you want in a Hobey Baker winner.
“He’s an elite hockey player. But when we think about Cale, personally when I think about Cale, first thing that comes to my mind is how good of a kid he is. He’s unbelievable. I feel very fortunate that I got to coach him. I don’t expect him back. Just very grateful, very grateful.”
He is expected to join the Avalanche immediately for their playoff series. Colorado is currently tied, 1-1, with the Calgary Flames in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Makar could make his NHL Debut on Monday in Denver for Game 3 of the series. The Calgary native could also play in his hometown as early as Friday in Game 5.