Cale Makar’s upward trajectory continues.
The Colorado Avalanche defenseman capped a record-setting rookie year by winning the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie.
He accepted the award remotely from Calgary, Alberta, but from none other than a very complimentary Wayne Gretzky. Makar, 21, said he’d never met “The Great One” before.
“Pretty surreal moment for me,” Makar said.
Makar became the 12th defenseman in NHL history and second in 10 years to win the Calder, which dates to 1933, according to a team release.
“After winning the award, obviously you want to be able to prove to people why you did,” Makar said. “For me it’s just going to be able to try and get better every day and come back next season better than I was this year.”
Makar is the third current Avalanche player to win it, after Nathan MacKinnon (2013-14) and Gabriel Landeskog (2011-12), but the first defenseman in franchise history.
Peter Stastny (1980-81) and Peter Forsberg (1994-95) both won the Calder as Quebec Nordiques, while Chris Drury won it after the franchise relocated to Denver in 1998-99.
“Just to bring the trophy back to the Avalanche organization is pretty special,” Makar said.
The fourth overall selection in the 2017 NHL draft also won the Hobey Baker Award for the top college hockey player as a sophomore in 2019 before turning pro.
Makar finished second among league rookies in scoring with 50 points (12 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games. He set franchise records in points, goals and assists for a rookie defenseman.
The Calder is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.” A Professional Hockey Writers Association poll at the end of the regular-season schedule determines the winner.
Makar also made the all-rookie team.
MacKinnon was up for the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) and Ted Lindsay Award (NHLPA MVP) but lost both to the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl. MacKinnon finished second in voting for the Hart with 48 first-place votes to Draisaitl’s 91. The voting point total was close with Draisaitl taking 1,309 to MacKinnon’s 1,162. Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers was third.
Draisaitl, 24, is the first German-born player to win the Hart Trophy.
MacKinnon won another league award, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with high playing ability. He was named to the second all-star team.