Carney Column: Cale Makar shouldn’t be rushed into Avs’ lineup
UMass defenseman Cale Makar, a Colorado Avalanche product, is currently preparing for the Frozen Four championship game.
Despite the biggest game of his life coming up, and the Avalanche locked in a playoff series with the West-leading Calgary Flames, all the talk surrounding the hockey club and the elite-level prospect is if Colorado’s brass should rush Maker into the playoff series once his collegiate career is over.
Rushing a 20-year-old prospect fresh off of a collegiate season and into the heat of the playoffs is a monumental mistake, mainly because he’s nowhere near ready to step into that environment and because the stage is too big for a 20-year-old to make his professional hockey debut.
But where it really becomes a mistake is within the contract details for Makar. The UMass product hasn’t signed an entry-level deal, and should he sign one with the Avalanche while they’re in the playoffs and play just one playoff game, it would burn a year of his 3-year entry-level contract, and would take away his exemption for the upcoming expansion draft in 2022 for the new Seattle franchise.
Burning a year of his entry level deal AND leaving him open to a potential selection in the expansion draft is horrendous asset management for a team that has such a young core that they’re excited to build around. Aside from Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, Makar might be Colorado’s most exciting young player in a year or two. He’s about to be crowned the best player in college hockey with the Hobey Baker Award very soon, and could lead his program to a national championship this weekend. Burning a year of his contract at team-friendly rate for a few playoff games makes very little sense, especially when the Avs are lucky to be in the playoffs and shouldn’t be considered anything close to a Cup contender.
What’s surprising is that beat reporters for the team, and even some members of the front office don’t seem to understand that playing Makar in a playoffs would burn a year of his deal.
Mike Chambers, a terrific beat reporter for the Avalanche at The Denver Post, had a few interesting exchanges with fans on Twitter Thursday night regarding Makar. Chambers said he spoke with a club executive who was under the belief that Makar needed to play 10 games to burn a year of his entry-level deal. Some simple digging into the NHL’s CBA shows that Makar is an exception to that rule because he’d be 20 years old at the time of the signing, meaning as soon as he stepped onto the ice for an NHL game, he’d burn a year of his deal.
Seems silly to burn one full year of a cost-effective contract for a few games in the Stanley Cup playoffs, doesn’t it?
If I were in Joe Sakic’s shoes I’d pass on Makar making his debut until the 2019-20 season. Rushing a young, high-ceiling product into the lineup in a high-stakes situation like the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a tough call, and one that certainly doesn’t need to be made this season.
Josh Carney is the sports editor of the Post Independent. To reach him, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or find him on Twitter: @JCarney_Sports.
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