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Calder Trophy Debate: Cale Makar vs. Quinn Hughes



Cale Makar

I was listening to the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast yesterday, and the subject of who should win the NHL’s Calder Trophy came up, and whether it should go to the Avalanche’s Cale Makar or Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes. I often agree with the opinions of one of the show’s hosts, the Rear Admiral, but not this time when he said “you gotta lean toward Hughes” and none of his other co-hosts seemed to disagree.

No way, guys. Cale Makar should – and I believe, will – win the Calder and here’s why I think he should:

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  • It was pointed out that Hughes had more points than Makar in the regular season (53 to 50) as a rookie defenseman, and that was kind of a big factor in his favor to win the Calder.
  • Um, yeah, that’s true. It’s also true that Hughes played 11 more games than Makar. Makar averaged 0.86 points per game. Hughes averaged 0.77 points per game. Advantage, Makar.
  • Of Makar’s 50 points, 12 were goals. Only eight of Hughes’ 53 points were goals. Scoring a goal is a harder thing to accomplish than getting an assist. Advantage, Makar.
  • There was no great disparity in ice time per game, as some Hughes advocates would have you believe. Makar averaged 21:01 per game, Hughes 21:53. A wash.
  • Although plus-minus can be a deceiving stat, the fact is Hughes was a minus-10 for the Canucks. Makar was a plus-12. Advantage, Makar.
  • Makar averaged more shots per game than Hughes – 2.1 to 1.9. Makar’s shooting percentage was 9.9%, Hughes’ was 6.3. Advantage, Makar.
  • Makar had four game-winning goals, Hughes had two, despite playing 11 more games. Advantage, Makar.
  • Makar had a 52.8 Corsi at even strength, Hughes was at 52.7. Not a big advantage, but Advantage Makar nonetheless.
  • Hughes had a PDO of 97.7, Makar finished at 101.7. Generally, the higher a player’s PDO, the more “puck luck” they had, but in this case, it’s pretty much a wash. Hughes had defensive zone starts 41.6 percent of the time, Makar 37.7. That’s a slight advantage to Hughes, but not too much to say “AHA – there’s your big advantage Hughes!”
  • The fact is, Makar put up better numbers, percentage-wise, than Hughes in just about all meaningful categories. The only thing Hughes did was play more games. It goes without saying that Quinn Hughes is a terrific young player and will be for a long time to come.
  • But Cale Makar was/is better and deserves the Calder Trophy.
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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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AD – thank you! I listened to that podcast earlier this morning, and I was pissed. Usually, those Spittin’ Chiclets boys have a healthy back and forth disagreement and in this case, it was not there. Cale absolutely should win the Calder Trophy as you outlined very well. And besides your valid data points, the subjective qualities of Cale being a better skater, stick-handler and more fun to watch is without comparison.


Amen! And Makar is a game changer, the type of player who can take over at critical times and In OT, as evidenced by his GWG, among other things, and his hockey IQ is off the charts!


I don’t get it… Are we just supposed to completely ignore his incredible playoff performance when considering this award? Everyone should know the story by now… The kid walks right into the NHL playoffs without every playing an NHL game and lights it up. And from my perspective it looked like he had been an NHL’er for years. That should account for something, right?? What if he had 15 points or 20 points in the playoffs? What if he led them to a cup? Would his playoff stats still be disregarded?


And what about the 12+ posts Makar has had throughout the season? I swear, the kid’s nickname could be “ping” with all the iron he hits. Its pretty incredible how accurate he is with his shots. It’s either post in or post out when he shoots. Don’t get me wrong, Hughes is a good player, but he’s a forward masquerading as a defender. I have never seen him check anyone… Can he do that? I’ve never seen him battle for a puck in the corner. Can he do that without getting injured? All I see when I watch him is… Read more »


Brutal points, Hughes is no forward, he plays D with positioning and his stick, hes quite small so he has to play that way and his skating is excellent

Charles-Edouard Boivin

Sorry but there is NO debate. Maker is the winner. Nothing there to discuss.

Charles-Edouard Boivin

I live in Québec city and read most Canadian hockey press. I don’t read anything about Hughes being the winner of the Calder trophy. Everyone is drooling over Makar.
… and he is Canadian too ; )


…and Hughes is an American


I find the fact that you are questioning the ethical integrity of Canadian sportswriters offensive EH?


Hahahahaha nice “article”. Why don’t you explore the underlying stats? Oooh, because +/- favors Makar. That’s why.

Ash Glover

Ohhh we can go there.


What a total homer article


Makar playing on a better team has a huge advantage in having better numbers. Compare last year Canucks pp to this year pp (4th) and that’s mostly Hughes.

Adrian's a womans name

A colorado hockey site disagrees with someone when it isnt a decision for a colorado player. What a joke article, try pretending to not be a completely biased homer, maybe your articles wont read like trash


How would the two players’ accomplishments differ had they played on the other team? Makar with VAN and Hughes with COL. Which player made their respective team better?


There’s one crucial bit that isn’t taken into account in this write-up, and that’s how valuable the player is to his team in this season.

Quinn Hughes played top pair with rotated partners throughout the season.
The top pairings with him were 1st, 2nd, and 4th in corsi.

The fact Cale Makar played less games actually hurts his chances of winning the award.


look at all the childish angry replies from the delusional as usual vancouver fans. if hughes doesnt win the calder you can all go ahead and do what you best when you lose… RIOT!


Of course. For the stats you share that favour Hughes, you call them a wash.
It’s ok to have a bias towards one player, but just come out with it. Don’t pretend to have an unbiased opinion and try to offer a critical analysis of two athletic performances. You clearly prefer Makar.


Missed this article.. one thing that people miss in this conversation is that Makar was out for a month. That is a big deal not only for the bare stats, but more importantly injuries of that extent have historically derailed many if not most player seasons who were on track for a major individual award! In other words, to come back from such an injury and get right back into the Calder race is tremendous and cannot be overstated! Case in point..McDavid…if he hadn’t been injured, he probably would have been the hottest candidate for the MVP. But Draisaitl, who… Read more »


Everyone in this comment section is gonna get proven wrong. From what I’ve seen, everyone except Pierre McGuire is voting for Hughes. Chris Johnston, Micheal Traikos, Ian MacIntyre, among others.


Ima glad nobody mentioned Hughes led all defense men in points after January or Hughes set the new record for points by a defense men in the playoffs or how many points Hughes had @ the All Star game…&; Why was Hughes even in the All Star game if Maker was the most entertaining though even Gretzky said Wow after watching Hughes goal during the All Star game…. Time will tell…

Last edited 1 year ago by Chulookin

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