Continuing an in-depth examination at the Colorado Avalanche’s 2018 draft class it is finally time for the leader of the group. At 16th overall Martin Kaut was a great addition as a top forward to the prospect system who should be wearing burgundy sooner than later.
Born in the Czech Republic on October 2nd, 1999, Kaut stands at 6’2 and 183 lbs and is a right shot right wing. Kaut grew up in his hometown hockey system of Zdar nad Sazavou with Carolina Hurricanes 2017 first round forward Martin Necas until early in 2015. Then Kaut moved to Pardubice to live with his older brother Tomas who happens to be 10 years his senior and played for HC Dynamo Pardubice in the Czech Extraliga . Kaut would climb the ranks of the Pardubice junior system and eventually make his debut with the men’s team during the 2016-17 season in Tomas’ final year with the team. Kaut would register a point in 26 games during that time.
As a staple on international teams early in his hockey career, Kaut participated in the U-18 championship and Ivan Hlinka tournament for the Czech Republic in that 2016-17 season but not in the following season in his draft year due to being aged out as a 1999 born player. At those tournaments he had two and four points respectively. Kaut was part of the gold medal winning Ivan Hlinka squad which was the first for the Czech Republic in the tournament’s 26 year history.
Kaut steadily rose through the 2017-18 season as he recieved more opportunity and kept impressing. The real turning point was his performance at the World Junior Championship where he was a key member of a team that finished 4th place in the tournament. Kaut had seven points including two goals including one seen below and was a key member on the first power play unit with more of a secondary scoring role at even strength. There he showed his steady responsible game with great hockey sense, playmaking ability and a scoring touch, which firmly placed Kaut on the radar for possible first round draft selection.
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Once he returned to his club team in Pardubice, Kaut took the confidence he gained from his overseas success and translated it into increased time on ice and in turn production. Kaut had six points in 24 games to start the season but finished strong with 10 points in his final 14 games plus five points in seven playoff contests. Despite seeing a lot more power play time, 13 of Kaut’s 16 total points were at even strength.
Kaut’s season didn’t end there and he continued adding to his international resume as he joined the Czech Republic men’s team in preparation for the World Championship. He was part of the Euro Hockey Tour team that won the Carlson Hockey Games portion. At the conclusion of the exhibition games Kaut was the only draft eligible player to remain on the team who went to Denmark to participate in the World Championships. Unfortunately Kaut was never registered as a player and did not play in any games due to NHL players joining the squad at the last minute.
At the NHL combine a minor heart ailment was discovered could have derailed Kaut’s career. He quickly had surgery to correct the problem in mid-June and recovered just in time to attend the draft in Dallas. Even though Kaut was given a full clean bill of health after the procedure it was still a big mystery as to where that would place Kaut on draft day, who some felt was a sure first round or even top 20 pick before the discovery as NHL central scouting had him fourth on the International skaters list. Many who were strong supporters of Kaut did not let the situation deter their ranking with HockeyProspect.com maintaining their placement of 14th and TSN’s final scout poll from Bob McKenzie had Kaut in the 16th position, how prophetic.
Just a couple weeks out of surgery Kaut attended Avalanche development camp and was able to participate in everything aside from the very first morning drill session. At times Kaut looked a little rusty but he easily showed the qualities which made him a first round draft selection. He has a big frame especially for his listed weight which helps him protect the puck well and battle in the corners. Kaut skates well for a bigger body with still a bit of needed work on acceleration. Kaut plays a smart defensively responsible game which can be labeled as safe but he has the skill to have exciting upside as well. He has soft hands as seen below and can use them in tight plus a shot that will help him score goals at the next level. Kaut might not have a singular elite trait but is very good in all areas and his best attribute is his hockey sense and vision which he uses to create plays and make passes seem effortless. Kaut has the ability to find a role as a secondary scorer in the NHL with the possibility for more but has the versatility to contribute in a defensive role as well.
It was easy to see how Kaut will fit in with the organization as he showed instant chemistry with Ty Lewis and what could have been had he reported to the Brandon Wheat Kings after his selection in the import draft in 2017. Kaut decided to stay in the Czech Republic to establish himself on the men’s team before making the transition to North America. They will just have to make the magic happen in Loveland with the Colorado Eagles instead.
Kaut quickly signed his Entry Level Contract with the Avalanche on July 5th soon after departing the camp in Denver. It appears he’s ready and eager to play in North America and the AHL would be a good step for him. It should not take long before Kaut is acclimated to the North American style of game as he is close to physically and mentally mature enough to take his game to the NHL level. Kaut will need to work mainly on adapting his game to the smaller ice and continue to work on quickness and scoring consistency but he already possesses a polished all-around game. The Avalanche may want to preserve the contract and limit Kaut to nine games in the coming season but he should make his NHL debut soon and push for a full-time spot on the Avalanche within a year.
Finally, one of the last games Kaut played for Pardubice in the playoffs in shift-by-shift form thanks to Rudo3.