Cale Makar vs. Quinn Hughes: Who Will Have the Better 2020/21?

Cale Makar versus Quinn Hughes has been a hot debate in hockey circles for much of this season, as they have consistently distanced themselves from the rest of this season’s crop of rookies. That they have done so while logging big minutes at arguably the most difficult position in hockey to navigate as a rookie makes their accomplishments all the more impressive. Let’s get the basics out of the way, starting with Makar:

Cale Makar Basic Info (retrieved from
Quinn Hughes Basic Info (retrieved from

As we can see, these two were both top-10 picks born about a year apart. They profile remarkably similarly as undersized smooth-skating, offensive defensemen, the type you set-and-forget as your PP1 quarterback for the next decade. Let’s see how their counting stats matched up over the course of the season:

Quinn Hughes/Cale Makar Player Comparison

As we can see, these two are neck and neck. Makar is three points behind Hughes overall, but in eleven less games played. Makar scores more while Hughes sets up a bit more. Hughes plays an extra 52 seconds a game, but Makar has a bit of a physical element to his game that Hughes lacks. It’s tough to make any major pronouncements based on this info other than if you’re in a league that includes hits you’re probably targeting Makar over Hughes. Let’s dig a little deeper:

Cale Makar/Quinn Hughes Player Comparison (Ranks Among All NHL Defensemen with at least 25 GP)

I’ve compiled a table that shows where Hughes and Makar rank against all other NHL defensemen in the categories I typically look at when putting together a projection for that player’s next season. While both players played significant minutes, there is still room to grow in TOI/GP as seen by Hughes’ 54th and Makar’s 74th ranking. As we can see, Makar’s goal/assist/points per 60 rates are all top 10, while Hughes slides to 45th in goals but is similarly top 10 on assist and point rates. Both players rank highly in IPP, and while Makar does generate more shots, he benefited from a sky-high shooting percentage which makes him a target for regression in 2020/21. Interestingly, however, Makar’s individual chances for rates are elite, especially in scoring chances and high danger chances, while Hughes’ rates are nothing to write home about. It’s worth noting that Hughes makes a resurgence in the team chances for rates (CF/60, FF/60, xGF/60, SCF/60, & HDCF/60), which speaks to their individual player styles. Where Makar is more likely to use his tremendous skating ability to drive the net for a shot, Hughes is more likely to use his ability to separate from opposition players to open up passing lanes. Neither player are going to help you much in a full bangers league; Hughes was dead last among all qualifying NHL defensemen in both hits and shots blocked in 2019/20, and Makar was not much better.

What can we glean from all this? Well first off we’ve confirmed what we all already knew: these two are already among the best offensive defensemen in the NHL as rookies. They both have strong supporting casts (Colorado ranked 4th in the league in goals per game, while Vancouver was close behind at 8th), they both generate chances for their team exceptionally well. Makar can expect a shooting percentage regression in 2020/21 but also generates scoring chances that support a higher shooting percentage than Hughes. With all that said, it’s time to make our projections.

Quinn Hughes 2020/21 Projection: 78 GP, 9 G, 51 A, 60 PTS, 148 SOG, 28 PPP, 8 H, 53 SB

Cale Makar 2020/21 Projection: 76 GP, 13 G, 52 A, 65 PTS, 164 SOG, 24 PPP, 63 H, 65 SB

As you can see, I’m projecting a slightly better fantasy season for Cale Makar in 2020/21, mostly due to his goal-scoring and shot creating ability. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Makar jump up to the 22-23 minute/game mark next season, whereas Hughes has a little less room to grow as he was already playing approximately 22 minutes a game.


  • Makar and Hughes are both top-10 offensive NHL defensemen already
  • Makar generates more shots, scoring chances, and goals than Hughes and is comparable on assist generation
  • Makar also has more room to grow with playing time
  • Makar projects to have a slightly better fantasy season in 2020/21 than Hughes

If you’ve enjoyed this content I hope that you’ll take a minute and fill out my five-question survey here as I explore the possibility of doing this full-time. Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.

Thanks for reading, you are much appreciated!


Published by Apples & Ginos

Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Advice

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