The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eight writers and 320 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2018 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
Kaut’s draft positioning was a little bit all over the board heading into the first round in Dallas, and some wondered if he would go as high as initially expected - at best, he had been ranked 13th by ISS Hockey and 4th among European Skaters by Central Scouting - due to a heart condition discovered at the draft combine.
He ultimately went to Colorado 16th overall, putting him right where TSN’s Bob McKenzie had him ranked and more or less right in the middle of where he was ranked across the board.
Some are still a little low on his overall ceiling, but there’s a lot for Avalanche fans to be excited about.
During the 2016-17 season, he’d made his debut in the Czech pro leagues as a 17-year-old, getting a 26-game appearance for Pardubice as a reward for putting up 16 points in 22 games with the U20 roster.
In his draft-eligible season, the calm, collected forward moved to the pro roster full-time, and finally hit his stride. Although he’d only recorded a single assist in his first season’s appearance for Pardubice, Kaut managed 16 points in 38 games last year, putting him on a 22-point pace over a full 52-game season as an 18-year-old. Even with limited appearances due to injury, the two-way center managed to finish eighth in scoring as the only 18-year-old on the roster, quickly gaining attention as the best young player on the team once long-time friend, teammate, and fellow draft-eligible Filip Zadina went overseas to play in Halifax.
Kaut’s English needs a little work, but he stood out in the media scrum at the draft when he admitted that he models his game after Bruins center and perennial Selke frontrunner Patrice Bergeron. Although he played on the wing for Pardubice, there’s a possibility that Kaut can play as a pivot, and his already-mature in-game awareness make him a clear asset from the get-go. Even if he never manages to hit a Bergeron-level gear, having a defensively responsible utility forward with good playmaking ability will serve the Avalanche well as they head into their prime MacKinnon years.
Highlight tape for 2018 NHL Draft prospect Martin Kaut (@kauly61).— The Rink Rat Report (@RinkRatReport) May 9, 2018
A potential 1st round pick that was awesome for the Czech Republic at the World Juniors.
Watch here: https://t.co/90gPk5RaHa#2018NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/JmQ8JU7FFj
Kaut’s best asset is his passing and playmaking, but he’s got decent hands and can score as well. He’s also got that year-and a half of pro experience with Pardubice, and he made it clear as soon as he was drafted that he was ready to continue developing in North America at the AHL level.
For now, expect Kaut to feature strongly in the Eagles lineup; if he gets a look at the NHL level, it’s likely to be thought out well in advance and insulate him heavily. There’s luckily no need to rush him, though; at just 18, he’s already playing beyond his years as it is.
He’s not Connor McDavid, but expect him to become an impact NHLer in the next 2-3 years.