As it is every year, the annual International Ice hockey Federation World Junior Championship tournaments are a joyous time for the National Hockey League both past and present as it provides players, veterans and fans with a unique chance to take a look at what the future may look like.
It is the ultimate treat to ring in the new year while it gives the kids a chance to cease an opportunity that they perhaps may never see otherwise. It also fills the seats with scouts from around the country to preview the talent that might just be on the horizon.
This year, the competition endured a rather thrilling conclusion, one that many have since used the word “special” in to describe the occurrence as Team Canada took down Rasmus Dahlin and the Swedes with an exhilarating 3-1 victory at the keyBank Centre in Buffalo.
A matter of days later, Bob McKenzie of TSN.ca, who was on-hand alongside James Duthie as well as Jeff O’Neill, reported on the latest edition of “Insider Trading” on Tuesday that the 19-year-old had done enough in the contest which kicked off on Boxing Day to at least get his name flowing into the conversation of players potentially considerable to earn themselves a spot at the Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In a statement from McKenzie, he said, “I think Cale Makar’s name is at least on the radar for consideration for the Canadian Olympic team that will be announced on Thursday. Not by any means is he a slam dunk, but the fact that the’s got a dynamic quality to his game, he could be a powerplay specialist”
Further more, McKenzie went on to say, “After being at the World Junior Championship, where he was the 7th defenseman, where he didn’t get much 5 on 5 ice time, how eager would he be to leave his school UMass, and development time there, to go for what would ostensibly be a part-time role with the Canadian Olympic team.”
McKenzie concluded in mentioning the fact in which Makar might have a decision to make if he was to be selected for Team Canada while it is also worth noting that the Colorado Avalanche would have a say in the matter as well.
If you were to take just a moment to look at both the positives and negatives he took in from the experience in which he has endured since the beginning of December, it may be good to keep in mind that Makar has already missed out on a large chunk of time where he would have continued to develop as a prospect due to being chosen as a member of Team Canada, which begs the next question being would it make sense to miss even more time in order to play a small role at the Olympics.
While in discussion with his fellow panelists which included Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic Toronto, McKenzie mentioned that Makar, a native of Calgary, AB, is a very dynamic player and has a game custom built for the bigger Olympic ice. It is also noted that the fourth overall pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2017 NHL draft, is an incredible skater, especially when it comes to handling his stick with the puck and has shown just that in previous years on the Olympic-sized ice surface in which he played on during his home games at the University Of Massachusetts. That being said, the NHL regulation-sized rink, which includes extra room, is something that wouldn’t be a huge difference from his past experiences, therefore, likely not disrupting his playing style from the way it currently is.
Moving forwards with a development courtesy of TSN.ca’s Darren Dreger on Wednesday evening, he reports that the defensemen has turned down the opportunity to represent his home country at next month’s Winter Olympics, therefore, staying committed to getting through school before taking the necessary next steps to kick off his career in hockey.
Earlier in the day, Dreger reported that no CHL players are expected to be named to Canada’s Olympic team when Hockey Canada makes their roster announcement on Thursday afternoon at 12pmET which can be seen on TSN2, TSN.ca as well as the TSN GO app.
So far this season at the University Of Massachusetts, Makar has recorded a single goal to go alongside eight assists, meanwhile, during the course of last month’s tilt which took place at the home of the Buffalo Sabres, he scored three goals to go alongside four assists in a total of six-games played prior to Canada receiving the gold medal as a result of their hard work and dedication which they put on display each and everyday while under the management of head coach Dominique Ducharme.
Ahead of this year’s edition of the clash, Team Canada spent many days and long hours on the ice at The Meridian Centre located in St. Catherines, Ontario prepping to showcase the best to their abilities as they did just that to put it all to rest while doing so in their favour.
Back to the World Juniors for just a moment longer, Makar led Canadian defensemen in scoring while he also found himself tied with an opponent, that being Libor Hajek from the Czech Republic.
Now bouncing back to what the Olympics could have meant for Makar, it is very likely he would have had a similar role that he did during the World Juniors as it is certainly worth noting that the majority of Makar’s impressive production was shown when Canada found themselves on the power play. He would also be playing minimally at even strength as the 7th defenseman that helps to piggyback one of the two powerplay units which again he could find success with given the damage he has already done previously.
As for what his future may hold beyond the doors he has found to be open thus far, the only reasonable if not logical guess as well would be that if Makar were to go to the Olympics which was originally thought to be a go ahead, perhaps spending more time away from school wouldn’t be all that big a deal nor such a huge loss if that were to be the case from the start of time as it was speculated and may still be that he was set to sign a professional contract at the end of his freshman season, making it look likely as if he isn’t going to be back at UMass next season, though once again, it will not be the case and no part of his future looking ahead has been confirmed as it stands for the time being given that he may just end up going back for one last hoorah.
Makar now becomes the second Canadian hockey player not to go to the Olympics as Victor Mete, who he played with at the World Junior Championship, is no longer going upon an announcement from the Montreal Canadiens which which says he will re-join the club on Friday January 12th before the Habs welcome the Boston Bruins to town for an original six matchup at the Bell Centre on this week’s edition of Hockey Night In Canada.
Many fans grew disappointed and did so fairly quickly upon learning that the NHL would not be going to the Olympic games next month and now Colorado Avalanche fans can let go of what seemingly was their last hope to give the contest not only viewership but really any meaning at all.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled to get underway on Wednesday February 14th as Canada looks to go for their third straight Olympic gold medal, and first gold without NHL players since 1952.