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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25 Number 10: Martin Kaut

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The young power forward had a quietly good year for the AHL Colorado Eagles

Denmark v Czech Republic - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship
VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 31: Goalie Lukas Dostal #2 of the Czech Republic is congratulated by teammate Martin Kaut #16 after defeating Denmark in Group A hockey action of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship on December, 31, 2018 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eleven writers and 480 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2019 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.

At 16th overall in 2018, Colorado Avalanche fans and prospect writers had hoped for a little more flash in first round pick Martin Kaut. One year removed from the draft, some of the hype has further reduced his stock, but there is still a lot to be excited with this prospect, especially considering he could be in the NHL and contributing as soon as next season.

Kaut has good size, a very good shot, and showed some really good offensive instincts in his first season with the AHL Colorado Eagles. He didn’t produce quite as much as other people wanted, but he was the second-most productive AHLer out of his draft behind Filip Zadina, doing it all at even strength.

In terms of our voting, most of the writers are very convinced Kaut belongs at the end of the top echelon of Under 25s, but believe there are some top-tier talent that will jump him once they all start getting to the NHL (or not). Dropping from 7 to 10 feels somewhat significant, but it mostly comes down to Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook jumping in ahead of him with the “new hotness” boost and 24-year-old JT Compher riding a hot shooting percentage.

AHL Points in Context

Power play goals account for 25% of all goals in the AHL so when a player doesn’t get that opportunity, they miss out on some valuable counting stats. For most prospects, it’s not anything to do with them as to why they don’t get that usage, it’s mostly because there are older prospects who get seniority.

As the second-youngest player in the AHL last season (behind Toronto’s Rasmus Sandin), Kaut can’t really be compared to other players in that same season. They’re all older than him and have spent more years getting used to the league. Let’s look at the last four drafts and see how those picks performed in the league at age-19.

Age-19 AHL Prospects 2016-19

PLAYER AGE SEPT 15 HT POSITION SEASON Draft Year +/- GP G A PTS EV G EV A1 EV A2 EV P1 EV PTS PP G PP A1 PP A2 PP P1 PP PTS DRAFT YEAR DRAFT POS DRAFT TEAM CURRENT TEAM
PLAYER AGE SEPT 15 HT POSITION SEASON Draft Year +/- GP G A PTS EV G EV A1 EV A2 EV P1 EV PTS PP G PP A1 PP A2 PP P1 PP PTS DRAFT YEAR DRAFT POS DRAFT TEAM CURRENT TEAM
Filip Zadina 19.80 6'00 LW 2019 DY+1 59 16 19 35 12 7 5 19 24 4 5 2 9 11 2018 6 DET DET
Martin Kaut 19.95 6'02 RW 2019 DY+1 63 12 14 26 10 8 4 18 22 2 2 0 4 4 2018 16 COL COL
Rasmus Sandin 19.52 5'11 LD 2019 DY+1 44 6 22 28 3 5 8 8 16 3 3 6 6 12 2018 29 TOR TOR
Filip Chytil 19.03 6'02 C 2018 DY+1 46 11 20 31 9 7 9 16 25 2 3 1 5 6 2017 21 NYR NYR
Klim Kostin 19.36 6'03 LW 2018 DY+1 67 6 22 28 4 12 7 16 23 2 0 3 2 5 2017 31 STL STL
Lias Andersson 19.92 5'11 C 2018 DY+1 25 5 9 14 5 2 5 7 12 0 0 2 0 2 2017 7 NYR NYR
Timothy Liljegren 19.38 6'00 RD 2018 DY+1 44 1 16 17 0 1 8 1 9 1 4 3 5 8 2017 17 TOR TOR
Jesse Puljujarvi 19.36 6'04 RW 2017 DY+1 39 12 16 28 7 8 3 15 18 5 2 3 7 10 2016 4 EDM EDM
Alexander Nylander 19.54 6'01 RW 2017 DY+1 65 10 18 28 7 4 4 11 15 3 4 6 7 13 2016 8 BUF CHI
Mikko Rantanen 19.88 6'04 LW 2016 DY+1 52 24 36 60 18 15 9 33 42 5 6 5 11 16 2015 10 COL COL
Oliver Kylington 19.32 6'00 LD 2016 DY+1 47 5 7 12 3 2 3 5 8 2 2 0 4 4 2015 60 CGY CGY

If you play around with the numbers a little bit, you’ll see that Mikko Rantanen was in a league of his own — he scored at a rate of 0.63 even strength primary points per game in 2016! No one else came close, but in the tier right below you have Jesse Puljujarvi, Filip Chytil, Filip Zadina, and Kaut.

He may have been a little disappointing in terms of his shooting percentage — he shot the lowest of the group at 9% — but with the way he scored in lower leagues and the Czech Republic, I expect that to improve once he gets more comfortable. He has too good of a shot for it to be ineffective for longer than a one-year sample.

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Shooting, Smarts, Skating (for his size)

Kaut is a very good shooter from his off-wing and while he’s skating. He looks a little clunky when he shoots off the rush, but he gets the job done with a quick enough stride and a deceptive wrist shot that it shouldn’t really knock him too much. As a 6’2” 19-year-old, there is still some growing to do. He needs to fill muscle around his body in order to look and feel more comfortable moving. This was a knock against players like Jamie Benn, Mark Scheifele, and Evander Kane for a while, but they were able to grow out of it and be solid NHL scorers.

Kaut also knows how to move around the ice well and really bought into the work ethic in the AHL. It’s a grind every night and you have to always be engaged in order to repel the constant barrage of checkers and defenders from the other side. I recommend reading this translated interview Kaut gave with iDNES.cz in the Czech Republic. It has a lot of insight into Kaut as a person and some funny anecdotes about Pavel Francouz. The following quote comes from the interview:

Good question. I had like two points in my first seven games, I was getting used to the new league. I’ve stopped worrying about it and started getting a few more points. People say that points are important in America, but what I can see from Colorado is that they mainly want me to improve myself as a player – going to the net, finishing checks, getting stronger and faster. That’s why I don’t have to focus on points so much.

For a player like Kaut, size is one of his biggest assets, and the Avalanche are doing their best to prepare him for that kind of career even if it’s something he’s never experienced before:

I’ve got used to American hockey and playing more selfish. I’ve gotten stronger as well. Summer was not good at all but I’m getting there. Our coach wants to play a style I’ve never played before. We play 1, 1, 3 in neutral zone. Also forechecking... I’m learning to play close the net, battling and driving. It’s a trend in America, in Czech we play it more nicely – to score goals into empty nets. There’s nothing like that in here. Goals are scored via rebounds and tips. I’m doing my best to improve in that aspect.

To me, the goal of the AHL is to prepare a player to be the contributor that he can be at the NHL level. That means doing a lot more than scoring power play points and being a flashy perimeter player. For me, seeing that a prospect is learning the defensive system and is buying in usually means their coach is going to like them and give them ice time.

It’s imperative to combine that with learning skills that can help a player contribute even when their bread-and-butter skill — whether it be passing, or shooting, or skating — isn’t clicking at that moment. Skills like forechecking, being annoying in front of the nets, and supporting in all three zones can only help keep you in the lineup until you get back in your groove. That’s usually what coaches mean when they say “it’s a grind” when things aren’t going well. Some players can do it, and some can’t. It’s better to be one that can.

From Dobber Prospects:

March 2019 – Kaut’s 2018-19 season has been underwhelming, but not poor. His 4 points in 5 games at the WJC tied for the team-lead but these came mostly on the powerplay. His 23 points (11G, 12A, 116 SOG) in 59 AHL contests so far aren’t bad for a rookie, but need to improve for a goal-scorer of his caliber. One reason for his lower-than-expected SOG totals is his tendency to miss the net often, this is certainly an area for improvement. Still, he gets his chances from the right areas, he skates well and is smart in the offensive zone, and should remain in your reserves in dynasty leagues. Hayden Soboleski

Highlights