Lost in the hoopla of the NHL’s Return to Play and the Stanley Cup playoffs is Martin Kaut.
Literally. Where is he?
The Colorado Avalanche right wing prospect who was good enough to play nine games in the NHL during the spring, including the final game on March 11th right before the COVID-19 pause, was not invited to participate in Phase III training camp nor travel to the bubble in Edmonton. Kaut helped the Avalanche to a 8-0-1 record in those nine games, chipping in a two goals and an assist which led directly to one-goal victories in each game.
Further examination of Kaut’s NHL stint:
Looking deeper than just points shows that Kaut was working to drive play when he was on the ice at the highest level. He averaged 10:08 time on ice per game with 9:13 at even strength and upheld a 55.24% Corsi For. Kaut produced 25 shots attempts with 23 at even strength and at a per 60 rate which on the Avalanche only trailed Nathan MacKinnon. Kaut also averaged over a shot on goal per game at even strength and produced a shot on net in each game following his NHL debut.
Now the company line is due to hitting that nine game threshold the Avalanche do not want Kaut to play a tenth game in the 2019-20 season and trigger use of the first year of his Entry Level Contract, which will now span five years.
There are many who believe this is the right call citing cost certainty in an impending flat cap era and while the logic seems acceptable it’s also taken at face value. Getting to that second contract earlier will make it cheaper and pushing off an expensive first round ELC with performance bonuses which will be easier to obtain the longer it’s stretched out doesn’t point toward cost certainty either.
There’s also the principle of investing in what will increase the value of the asset in the first place, ensuring the player will become an impact piece on your NHL roster and worthy of a second contract. If Kaut fails to become a mainstay on the Avalanche roster this is all irrelevant.
Leaving Kaut out of the equation where he is not practicing and training in a NHL environment, getting familiar with his supposed future teammates and finding more comfort with life in general in North America just so that there’s zero temptation to give him that tenth game seems short-sighted at best. Not to mention whilst trying to win a Stanley Cup those who give the Avalanche the best chance to win should be available and Kaut proved that as the most productive call-up on the season.
But that ship has now sailed so what is Martin Kaut supposed to do in the meantime while waiting for the 2020-21 season which will begin at best in December? He is training with his old club Pardubice in the Czech Extraliga but the Avalanche have not given him permission to play games with them. It has now been five months and counting since Kaut has played a game and for a 20-year old it is potentially detrimental to his development to lose this much playing time.
Over the past week numerous high profile including multiple former first round prospects have been loaned to their previous European clubs including Filip Zadina, Moritz Seider and Tobias Björnfot. These players will receive several months of playing time before the NHL even begins to prepare for the 2020-21 season and in the case of the Czech Extraliga will allow those players to go back to their NHL clubs for training camp.
NHL teams: “You get a loan to your hometown team in Europe! And you get a loan to your hometown team in Europe! And you get a loan to your hometown team in Europe!”
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) August 7, 2020
Except for one Martin Kaut. When will the exceptions end?