Colorado Avalanche top prospect Cale Makar turned down an invitation to play for Team Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics, reports TSN’s Darren Dreger. Hockey Canada will announce the full roster for the men’s team being sent to Pyeongchang Thursday at 12 p.m. ET.
Makar, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, recently played a starring role for the gold medal-winning Canadian team at the 2018 World Junior Championships. He recorded three goals and five assists in eight games, and clearly impressed the higher ups from the senior national team with his play.
Team Canada will look a lot different at the 2018 Olympics without the participation of the NHL. The team will primarily consist of players from overseas leagues in countries such as Russia, Switzerland, and Sweden. According to Dreger, there aren’t expected to be any junior players named to the roster.
So Makar may have been the youngest player on the roster had he accepted the invitation, but he turned down Hockey Canada’s advances. But it appears that coming off a busy tournament in Buffalo, he prefers to return to Amherst to play college hockey rather than spent three weeks in Pyeongchang.
It’s fair to say this could be a real loss for Team Canada in that tournament. Makar is an incredibly gifted young defenseman whose high-level skating and puck-moving ability make him one of the best prospects in hockey. He’s recorded nine points in 16 games with UMass in addition a stellar showing at World Juniors. A push for playing time in Colorado next season is conceivable, if not likely.
Team USA will have four NCAA players — Jordan Greenway (BU), Troy Denver (Denver), Ryan Donato (Harvard), and Will Borgen (St. Cloud State) — on its roster for the Olympic men’s hockey tournament. We’ll know more about Team Canada’s roster Thursday.