TAMPA, FL (June 21, 2022) – The National Hockey League (NHL) has announced Brooks Bandits alumnus and Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar is the 2021-22 winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s Top Defenceman.
The Calgary, AB product is a two-time finalist for the award, this year beating out Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning for his first Norris.
Recruited out of the Northwest Calgary Flames U18 AAA program, Makar made an immediate splash with Brooks as an affiliate during the 2014-15 season, scoring 5 points (1G, 4A) in 3 games. His rookie season in the AJHL saw him tally 55 points (10G, 45A) in 54 regular season games, and 14 points (3G, 11A) in 13 playoff games, helping the Bandits win the 2016 AJHL Championship. He was named to the AJHL South All-Rookie Team, AJHL South All-Star Team, AJHL Rookie of the Year, and Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) Rookie of the Year. They qualified for the 2016 RBC Cup in Lloydminster, where Makar was named RBC Cup MVP, RBC Cup Top Defenceman, and RBC Cup Top Scorer. He was also named to the All-Star Team at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge, winning a Gold Medal with Team Canada West.
Makar continued to dominate during the 2016-17 season, scoring 75 points (24G, 51A) in 54 regular season games. During the 2017 AJHL Playoffs, he contributed 16 points (5G, 11A) in 13 games, helping secure another AJHL Championship for Brooks. He was named the AJHL’s Most Outstanding Defenceman, League MVP, League Scoring Champion, Playoff MVP, and CJHL Top Defenceman. He and the Bandits won the 2017 Western Canada Cup in Penticton, BC, qualifying for the 2017 RBC Cup in Cobourg, ON. The blueliner was named the CJHL Player of the Year, RBC Cup MVP and RBC Cup Top Defenceman. He also represented Team Canada at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge.
Drafted 4th overall by the Avalanche in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, (the highest ever by an AJHL player, and 2nd highest by a CJHL player) Makar moved on to NCAA Division I hockey the University of Massachusetts. In his first season, he scored 21 points (5G, 16A) in 34 games. The season was highlighted by being named to Team Canada for the World Junior Under 20 Hockey Championship in Buffalo, NY. He was named to the tournament’s All-Star team and won a Gold Medal. Makar finished the year named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, Hockey East Third All-Star Team, and NCAA (New England) Rookie of the Year.
His second year at UMass saw more success. After putting up 49 points (16G, 33A) in 41 games, he was named to the NCAA (East) First All-American team, Hockey East First All-Star Team, Hockey East Player of the Year and capped it off with winning the prestigious Hobey Baker Award as the Top Collegiate Player in NCAA Division I hockey. The Minutemen also qualified for the 2019 National Championship game.
Makar made his NHL debut in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs after the college hockey season came to an end, scoring a goal in his first game (Game 3) and helped the Avalanche to a 4-1 series win over the Calgary Flames.
In his rookie NHL season, the former Bandit star amassed 50 points (12G, 38A) in 57 regular season games. He won the 2020 Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Top Rookie.
During his 2020-21 sophomore campaign, Makar amassed 44 points (8G, 36A) in 44 games, and was named a finalist for the Norris.
The 2021-22 season saw Cale set a career high in points with 86 (28G, 58A) in 77 games, breaking the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques team record for Most Points in a Season by a Defenceman, and Most Goals by a Defenceman.
The Brooks Bandits congratulate Makar and his family on this outstanding achievement.