When the 2019-20 Colorado Avalanche season was halted in March following a 3-2 overtime victory against the New York Rangers so was a decision on Martin Kaut’s future. He had just participated in his ninth NHL game and was ticketed to the Colorado Eagles to finish the season in the AHL and prevent burning a year of his Entry Level Contract despite receiving two call-ups to the big club that week.
Kaut wasn’t with the team very long yet his impact was felt in those nine games in which the Avalanche enjoyed a 8-0-1 record. He was placed on the third line alongside primarily Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Matt Nieto in more of a defensive role but saw more action than most call-up get who are stuck on the fourth line. However magic happened with JT Compher on a line change for Kaut’s first NHL point when he intercepted the puck and fed Compher in what would eventually result in a tight 1-0 victory in Anaheim.
That first point clearly built confidence as Kaut scored his first career NHL goal two games later for a pivotal score in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres which earned him first star of the contest. On the second power play unit Kaut retrieved his own dump-in and continued the cycle when he was ready to pounce off a rebound. Getting that net front presence and strong board work especially in a functional second power play unit which had been lacking paid dividends for the Avalanche.
Finally, another couple of games down the line in a Kaut scored the insurance marker in another 3-2 win this time in Nashville. For this goal he entered the offensive zone on the rush as the trailer and buried a feed from Tyson Jost in the slot. Again Kaut providing supplementary offense was a key to securing a tough divisional game.
As the most productive call-up of the season for the Avalanche, Kaut exemplified that AHL scoring does not directly predict NHL contribution. His 18 points with the Eagles in 34 games in the current season seems modest but they were well-earned as 15 of them were primary with ten points at even strength plus two short handed primary assists. The type of production he generated in the AHL actually was reflective of how Kaut would generate offense in the NHL.
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. Naturally the sample size is still small with just over 91 minutes of total time on ice over those nine games but still shows a budding trajectory of dependable contribution when Kaut is afforded the opportunity to grab a full-time role with the Avalanche.
The hope is Kaut showed enough to the Avalanche in his nine game audition so that they will keep him in mind whenever it is time to construct the roster for the 2020-21 season. Focusing on internal graduations to fill roster holes will pay dividends down the road both monetarily and with the promise of elevating the roster. Still, there is the chance the 2019-20 campaign can conclude with playoffs and would include extra “black ace” players on the roster in the event they are needed in a long playoff run. Kaut should be in consideration if needed even if it would burn a year of the contract, which has already slid for an additional year once, because he has shown he can contribute at the NHL level.