From Frozen Four to NHL playoffs: Cale Makar signs with Avs

DENVER — Cale Makar is about to jump from one post-season run straight into another.

The 20-year-old defenceman signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Colorado Avalanche a day after his Massachusetts squad lost in the Frozen Four championship game.

Makar, who’s from Calgary, could make his NHL debut Monday in Game 3 of a playoff series against the Flames. The series is tied at a game apiece.

The 6-foot, 192-pound Makar was the fourth overall pick by Colorado in the 2017 draft. Makar recently won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s top player after a season in which he had 49 points, including 16 goals, over 41 games.

Along the way, Makar became the first defenceman in history to lead Hockey East in overall scoring. He also broke the UMass single-season school record for points by a defenceman, eclipsing the previous mark of 41 set by Thomas Poeck in 2003-04.

“He is a game-changing type of player who made a lasting impact on the UMass hockey program,” general manager Joe Sakic said Sunday in a statement. “We are excited to have him join our team.”

Makar helped the Minutemen reach the title game before they were knocked off 3-0 by Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday night. Perhaps knowing it would be his final time in a UMass sweater, Makar couldn’t bring himself to take it off and wore it to the podium.

“I’m so very honoured and humbled to put this jersey on every single game,” Makar said. “Our practice jerseys, as well. I’m so fortunate that I chose this school, under such a great staff.

“It’s just a sense of pride now. As I touched on, we brought so much respect to this crest. This program is no longer an embarrassment. Everybody can look at us as a program that’s going to be successful for years.”

Makar joins an Avalanche blue line that includes Tyson Barrie, Ian Cole, Samuel Girard, Erik Johnson and Nikita Zadorov.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Pat Graham, The Associated Press

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