AVALANCHE

Could Cale Makar go down as the greatest defenseman ever?

May 10, 2022, 12:10 PM
Cale Makar...
Photo by Mickey Bernal/Getty Images

Does Cale Makar belong in the same breath as Bobby Orr?

Nathan MacKinnon thinks one day, his young teammate could be recognized on the same level as Orr, who is considered the best NHL d-man of all time.

“He might be the best player in the league right now,” MacKinnon, a two-time All-Star, said. “The way he dominates from the back end is amazing. All season but this playoffs is he’s taking another step with his leadership in the room. Be more vocal and obviously on the ice is so dominant.”

Makar finally got a full regular season and tallied 86 points. But as MacKinnon eluded to, he’s stepped up to another level in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Makar has 10 points in the Colorado Avalanche’s first four playoff games, an NHL record for most points by a d-man in the first four games of a postseason run.

“He might be one of the best d-men to ever play by the end of his career at this rate,” MacKinnon said. So really excited to have him on our team.”

Makar has already played 39 playoff games across four years after debuting in the 2019 postseason. He’s put more than a point per game. This season it’s become clear he’s one of the better skaters in the league, circling the Predators like prey during the four-game sweep. Makar recorded 41 shot attempts in the series, which is third-best among all players in the NHL playoffs this season. MacKinnon paces that stat with 44.

Makar has been impressive, but the Orr category is on another level. Makar has been a point-per-game player in his career, Orr played 10 seasons in Boston and finished with 888 points. He carried over into the postseason, notching 92 points in 74 games, helping the Bruins win two Stanley Cups. Orr won eight Norris Trophies, three Hart Trophies, and two Conn Smythes.

Orr is simply the standard. Though, he is from another time so it’s hard to compare Makar to him or even Ray Bourque. But being a point-per-game backend player will put you into the greatest player conversation. As will winning two Norris Trophies. Every player who has won multiple is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, aside from the still active Duncan Keith and Erik Karlsson, who each will get that call one day.

Makar was named a Norris finalist on Monday but is likely to lose the award to Roman Josi. Of course, MacKinnon’s praise comes as Makar leads the Avs past Josi’s Preds. While Josi may take home his second Norris, it’s evident that Makar is the better player right now after that series. So yeah, Makar might let this year’s Norris slip, but winning a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe is better for the resume anyway.
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Could Cale Makar go down as the greatest defenseman ever?