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Brooks Bandits’ Cale Makar has chance to make history

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WATCH ABOVE: A Brooks Bandits defenceman is generating a huge level of interest from NHL scouts. The offensively gifted Cale Makar has the chance to be the highest drafted AJHL player in history, and the only Brooks Bandit to be directly drafted into the NHL – Jan 20, 2017

Brooks Bandits radio broadcaster Tyler King always has a bevy of words at his disposal, but there’s one player that’s making his job difficult.

“Sometimes as a broadcaster – what he does defies explanation,” King said. “Sometimes he makes so many moves with the puck that he gets himself wide open in front of the net, that you don’t have time to describe what he actually did by the time the puck ends up in the back of the net.”

The man causing all the problems for King is Bandits stand-out defenceman Cale Makar.

“He’s a generational player, a transformational player,” King said. “He’s the calibre of talent a league like this doesn’t see very often.”

Players in the Alberta Junior Hockey League are usually thinking about long-term development, that’s why even though he was drafted by the Medicine Hat Tigers, Makar went to Brooks.

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“I was a pretty small guy at the time,” Makar said. “For my development’s sake I thought a longer career path was the way to go. I thought that the college-AJHL route was the best for me.”

The decision is proving fruitful. With 48 points in 36 games, Makar is terrorizing the AJHL. He’s a top-10 scorer as a defenceman and NHL scouts are taking notice.

“Everywhere we go on the road you’ll see someone with a jacket with an NHL logo on it,” King said. “At the AJHL showcase this year, there were more NHL scouts there this year than any year prior, and that was due in large part to having a guy like Cale Makar.”

It’s not like the Bandits are a bad team – they’re a great team. They’ve been the best team in the AJHL for a number of years, winning the title in 2012, 2013 and 2016. Though they’ve had great players, Makar is generating a whole new level of interest from scouts.

“Yeah, there’s been a lot more interest this year,” Bandits Head Coach and General Manager Ryan Papaioannou said. “Normally there’s some NHL interest here or there, but the way it is this year, with guys here every night, and people wanting to meet with Cale after every game, it’s defiantly been a lot different for our team.”

Makar was recently ranked the 10th best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and if his ascension continues, he could become the highest drafted player in the history of the AJHL (Joe Colborne currently holds the record at 16th overall). So, if you think Makar is missing out on anything playing in the small city of Brooks, think again.

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“To be able to play here is unbelievable,” Makar said. “You’re basically treated like a celebrity in the town, everyone knows you and it’s just awesome.”

If, more likely when, Makar gets drafted, he’ll be the first Brooks Bandits player drafted directly into the NHL.

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