He may only be in the lineup because of injuries to a number of Colorado Avalanche forwards, but Martin Kaut is doing his best to show that he belongs in the NHL. In only his fourth game since being called up from the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, the 20-year old rookie scored his first career NHL, helping his team beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. The win pushed Colorado’s winning streak to four games and pushed them into second place in the Western Conference. Despite being without half of their top-6 (Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky), their best 3rd line winger (Matt Calvert) and their starting goalie (Philipp Grubauer) the Avalanche were able to win their fourth game in a row and climb into second place in the Western Conference.
Up from the minors earlier than many – including the team – expected, Kaut has spent the first four games of his career trying to adapt to the quicker pace of the NHL. Selected 16th overall pick in the 2018 NHL entry draft, has been in and out of the lineup in Loveland this season due to injuries. Since getting healthy, Kaut has shown the Avalanche front office that he has the type of offensive punch they were hoping for – but hadn’t seen yet. With 10 of his 16 AHL points coming after January 15th, the team felt he was ready to be one of the short term call-ups to make up for all the injuries.
Though he’s barely playing 10 minutes a game for the Avalanche, Kaut got some powerplay time last night and took advantage of it. With Rasmus Dahlin in the penalty box, Kaut jumped on a Vladislav Kamenev rebound and put a strong wrist shot past Carter Hutton.
It was Kaut’s first career NHL goal and his second point since being recalled from the Eagles.
Most shifts, you can tell Kaut is still a very raw rookie. He’ll look a half second behind the opposition on some shift and he has only generated three shots on net in his four games in the NHL, despite getting the majority of his zone starts in the offensive zone. He likely won’t get into the lineup once the injured forward start making their way back in the lineup but for right now, what he’s doing is important. These games will go a long way to building both his confidence and his in-game instincts for the next time he gets the call to the NHL.
He still has a long way to go before he becomes an impact player in the top-9 for the Avalanche but what we’ve seen from Kaut so far this month should leave fans optimistic that he’ll get there. For the rest of this season, he’ll likely see a few more games in the NHL this season followed by a long playoff run with the Eagles. There’s a strong possibility he even starts next year in the AHL as well but whenever his next call up comes, the games this month will have been invaluable.
Last night was a big win for the Avalanche but also a huge milestone for Martin Kaut, and it looks as though he’s not going to be able to forget the moment any time soon. His celebration after scoring, was one of pure joy. By all accounts, he’s one of the best guys you’ll come across in the Avs organization and that fist pump was the kind of raw emotion that you love to see.