Makar the standard-bearer for NHL’s younger generation
Cale Makar is the standard-bearer for the NHL’s younger generation.
Makar is No. 1 in Craig Button’s ranking of the Top 50 U-24 NHL-affiliated players and prospects who were 23 or younger as of the start of the NHL season Oct. 11.
Since then, the Colorado superstar has turned 24 and reached 200 career points faster than any defenceman in NHL history.
Makar, who plays the game at breakneck speed, reached the milestone in 195 games, 12 fewer than any other blueliner.
Teammate Nathan MacKinnon has famously said Makar could develop into the greatest defenceman ever.
Button doesn’t share that perspective but sees Makar ending up as one of the all-time greatest by career’s end.
“Makar has a brilliant future ahead of him,” says Button. “I think he could eventually be the third best defenceman behind Bobby Orr and Nicklas Lidstrom.”
Orr won eight consecutive Norris Trophies and Lidstrom won a total of seven best defenceman honours. Makar won his first last year and doubled down by winning the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP with the Stanley Cup champions.
Makar (6-20-26) is one of three players who earned AAA superstar status in Button’s grading – placing ahead of No. 2 Dallas left winger Jason Robertson (23-20-43) and No. 3 New Jersey centre Jack Hughes (16-19-35).
Robertson and Hughes lead a dazzling group of young Americans, with six of Button’s top 11 representing the stars and stripes. The others: No. 7 Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger, No. 9 Vancouver defenceman Quinn Hughes, No. 10 Ottawa left winger Brady Tkachuk and No. 11 Anaheim centre Trevor Zegras
Montreal centre Nick Suzuki is No. 4 and the highest-ranked player from a Canadian team. The Canadiens and Ottawa Senators each have four players in the top 50, most among Canada-based clubs.
The Canadiens are Suzuki, No. 15 left winger Cole Caufield, No. 28 defenceman Kaiden Guhle and No. 39 left winger Juraj Slafkovsky.
The Senators are Tkachuk, No. 17 centre Tim Stutzle, No. 26 defenceman Jake Sanderson and No. 27 centre Josh Norris.
Dallas has three representatives in the top 10: Robertson, Oettinger, and No. 8 defenceman Miro Heiskanen. Button ranked Dallas’s collection of U-24 players as best in the league.
Ten countries are represented in Button’s ranking. Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Czechia, Slovakia, and Austria.
Three members of the Top 50 have turned 24 since season’s start: Makar, No. 6 Vancouver centre Elias Pettersson and No. 45 Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner.
|1. Cale Makar||Colorado||RD||24||kchow|
|2. Jason Robertson||Dallas||LW||23||kchow|
|3. Jack Hughes||New Jersey||C||21||kchow|
|4. Nick Suzuki||Montreal||C||23||kchow|
|5. Rasmus Dahlin||Buffalo||LD||22||kchow|
|6. Elias Pettersson||Vancouver||C||24||kchow|
|7. Jake Oettinger||Dallas||G||23||kchow|
|8. Miro Heiskanen||Dallas||LD||23||kchow|
|9. Quinn Hughes||Vancouver||LD||23||kchow|
|10. Brady Tkachuk||Ottawa||LW||23||kchow|
|11. Trevor Zegras||Anaheim||C||21||kchow|
|12. Moritz Seider||Detroit||RD||21||kchow|
|13. Bowen Byram||Colorado||LD||21||kchow|
|14. Owen Power||Buffalo||LD||20||kchow|
|15. Cole Caufield||Montreal||LW||21||kchow|
|16. Andrei Svechnikov||Carolina||RW||22||kchow|
|17. Tim Stutzle||Ottawa||C||20||kchow|
|18. Lucas Raymond||Detroit||LW||20||kchow|
|19. Nico Hischier||New Jersey||C||23||kchow|
|20. Martin Necas||Carolina||C||23||kchow|
|21. Matt Boldy||Minnesota||LW||21||kchow|
|22. Matty Beniers||Seattle||C||20||kchow|
|23. Robert Thomas||St. Louis||C||23||kchow|
|24. Noah Dobson||NY Islanders||RD||22||kchow|
|25. Spencer Knight||Florida||G||21||kchow|
|26. Jake Sanderson||Ottawa||LD||20||kchow|
|27. Josh Norris||Ottawa||C||23||kchow|
|28. Jamie Drysdale||Anaheim||RD||20||kchow|
|29. Kaiden Guhle||Montreal||LD||21||kchow|
|30. Cole Perfetti||Winnipeg||LW||20||kchow|
|31. Wyatt Johnston||Dallas||RW||19||kchow|
|32. Mason McTavish||Anaheim||C||19||kchow|
|33. Kent Johnson||Columbus||LW||20||kchow|
|34. Simon Edvinsson||Grand Rapids (AHL)||LD||19||kchow|
|35. Jesper Wallstedt||Iowa (AHL)||G||20||kchow|
|36. Sebastian Cossa||Grand Rapids (AHL)||G||20||kchow|
|37. Dylan Guenther||Arizona||RW||19||kchow|
|38. Juraj Slafkovsky||Montreal||LW||18||kchow|
|39. Pavel Mintyukov||Saginaw (OHL)||LD||19||kchow|
|40. Luke Hughes||Michigan (NCAA)||LD||19||kchow|
|41. Dylan Cozens||Buffalo||C||21||kchow|
|42. Marco Kasper||Rogle (SHL)||LW||18||kchow|
|43. Shane Wright||Coachella Valley (AHL)||C||18||kchow|
|44. David Jiricek||Cleveland (AHL)||RD||18||kchow|
|45. Stuart Skinner||Edmonton||G||24||kchow|
|46. Logan Cooley||Minnesota (NCAA)||C||18||kchow|
|47. Zach Bolduc||Quebec (QMJHL)||C||19||kchow|
|48. Brandt Clarke||Los Angeles||RD||19||kchow|
|49. Jimmy Snuggerud||Minnesota (NCAA)||RW||18||kchow|
|50. Yaroslav Askarov||Milwaukee (AHL)||G||20||kchow|