Prospect roundup: Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar leading wave of collegiate blue-line dominance

Quinn Hughes is part of a wave of talented young defensemen ready to jump to the NHL. Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire

Each week, this column will highlight news for NHL prospects and 2019 draft-eligible players, with a close eye on U.S. men's college hockey, and share some thoughts from recent prospect viewings as we look ahead to June's 2019 NHL draft.

I spent the past two weekends in college hockey rinks getting a closer look at two of the very best prospects in college hockey -- Cale Makar of UMass and Quinn Hughes of Michigan. They are headlining what many are calling the "Year of the Defensemen" in the collegiate ranks.

You're going to be hearing a lot about both unique, offensive-minded blueliners in the coming weeks, especially as their college seasons end. Makar was selected fourth overall in 2017 by the Colorado Avalanche, and Hughes went seventh to the Vancouver Canucks last June. The NCAA tournament hopes of Hughes and the Wolverines are hanging by a thread, while Makar and the Minutemen are locks for the tournament. Both players are expected to sign after their seasons conclude.

Here's a deeper look at Makar, Hughes and other prospects all over the hockey world.

NCAA rankings | Prospect notes | Game to watch

Scouting notebook

Cale Makar, D, UMass (Hockey East)