Makar flourishing under draft pressures

Special To FC2017 Draft Center, Features, International Events, NCAA

Emily Duncan | Em Rose Photography

Cale Makar knows the attention that comes with wearing the ‘C’ for a Canadian entry at an international tournament.

He understands that focus increases substantially when a standout performance follows.

The Brooks Bandits defenseman realizes that, being eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft, the scrutiny becomes intensified.

But for Makar, who is captaining Canada-West at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, AB, the bigger challenge is keeping an even-keel when that noise follows.

“I just push it away,” said Makar, ranked 48th in Future Considerations’ Fall ranking for the 2017 NHL Draft, and rising.

“I know it’s there. Every game I see those scouts in the stands with their books. You don’t need to get nervous. They’re going to be there every game. It’s something that I’ve become accustomed to and something I’m looking to get more used as the season continues.”

Makar has had plenty of time to get used to it.

It’s been a long time since he could be considered under the radar.

The 18-year-old attended the same tournament a year ago and earned an all-star team nod in helping Canada-West to gold in 2015.

Makar followed that performance by completing an impressive rookie season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, recording 45 assists and 55 points in 54 games to earn the league’s rookie of the year honor.

A run at the RBC Cup with the Bandits, where he captured the Roland Mercier Trophy as most valuable player and top-defenseman and top-scorer titles followed an AJHL title in Brooks.

His resume has brought him plenty of attention, to say the least.

So too have his skills.

“I’m a very active offensive defenseman,” said Makar, who likens his game to that of Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson and Shayne Gostisbehere, who was a finalist for the NHL’s rookie of the year last spring. “I think I use a lot of deceptiveness and puck moving in my game. I think my speed is one of the skills I utilize and use it to get up the ice really quick.”

His 11 goals and 38 points in 28 games with the Bandits this season will attest.

So too will his record performance Sunday.

Makar became the first defenseman in the history of the World Junior A Challenge to record five points in a game, scoring twice and adding three assists in a 6-2 win against Switzerland.

That attention he’s been getting?

Near impossible for the Calgary, AB native to shut out at this point.

But the maturity in Canada-West’s captain will push to try anway.

“It’s been fun,” Makar said, “I’ve looked past it. I’ve seen some stuff in the media and stuff like that but at the end of the day I’m looking past it and waiting for everything to fall into place and go along with my season.”

With files from Donesh Mazloum