Each day over the next month leading up to the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, held on June 22 in Dallas, we will be taking a look at the top 31 prospects available, starting with the 31st and leading up to number one.
Next in the series of prospect profiles is our 19th-ranked prospect, right wing Martin Kaut.
2017–18 Team: Pardubice (Czech Republic)
Date of Birth: October 2, 1999
Place of Birth: Brno, Czech Republic
Weight: 176 lbs
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 4 (European Skaters)
NHL Central Scouting Midterm Ranking: 11 (European Skaters)
NHL Comparable: Marian Hossa
Coming into the season, Martin Kaut was not expected to be high draft pick, instead being projected as a mid-round selection. However, thanks in large part to a very strong showing at the World Junior Championships, Kaut’s draft stock skyrocketed.
Kaut has played a depth role for his team in the Czech league, meaning his offensive totals did not jump off the page, tallying nine goals and seven assists this season. However, given the opportunity to play on the first line at the World Juniors with former first rounder Martin Necas and top prospect Filip Zadina, Kaut displayed his high-end offensive abilities, posting two goals and five assists in seven games.
While he does not have amazing acceleration, Kaut does possess good speed. He has strong legs, giving Kaut a powerful stride and very good balance, which he uses well to protect the puck and stay upright when challenged physically. If Kaut can improve his acceleration, he should be able to win more loose pucks and be able to create better separation from opponents.
Kaut has a pretty good shot, specifically his wrist shot. He has pinpoint accuracy and has a good amount of power despite not being a big player. He has a very quick release, which can fool goaltenders and allow him to sneak by shots when a goalie is not prepared for a shot. Kaut has good hands, which he can use to finish plays close to the net in the form of deflections, rebounds and net-front dekes. Kaut also has a good snapshot and a decent slapshot.
Perhaps the aspect most impressive about his performance at the World Juniors was Kaut’s passing ability. Kaut has a keen sense for setting up his teammates at the right time in the right place. Kaut put the puck on a platter for Necas and Zadina on multiple occasions, making a goal look easy. Kaut excels in the cycle game and enjoys being a setup man on the power play, where he can display his dazzling playmaking ability thanks to his excellent vision and recognition.
Kaut is a very sound two-way player, as he has excelled in a defensive role for his team in the Czech Republic. He has very good positioning and is good at breaking up passes because of his awareness. Kaut is willing to block shots. The one area of his defensive game that could be improved is his ability to win board battles, which could be addressed by getting stronger.
Implications for the Blackhawks
Kaut is an intriguing prospect because of the glimpses shown of what he can do. It is entirely possible a team likes him enough to take him in the middle of the first round. He is not good enough to crack the top 10, so the Hawks will certainly not reach for him at eight. But, he could be available at 27 if teams are unsure of his offensive consistency. He could be a nice addition that head coach Joel Quenneville would likely enjoy having thanks to his sound defensive game and ability to produce offense. He has drawn comparisons to Marian Hossa, which Blackhawk fans can appreciate, though do not expect him to have as prolific a career as Hossa.
Kaut needs to bulk up and work on his acceleration, which will likely take at least a year to do so. Do not expect him in North America until 2019–20.
Kaut is a bit of a question mark because it remains to be seen what type of a player he will really be. He has shown glimpses of excellence, but has not done that over an extended period of time, which could simply be because of a lack of opportunity to do so with his Czech league team. If he is able to play a high-end offensive game consistently, he could develop into a top-line winger. In reality, he would likely be a better second or third line winger with the ability to play an effective two-way game.
What others are saying
“One thing I love about the WJC is being able to see a teenage player with a checking role on an adult team play top-line minutes against his peers. Kaut, an energy player for Pardubice, had an outstanding world juniors debut by picking up three assists — all primary — while playing the wing with Zadina and Necas. All three of his passes were right on the tape or in a perfect spot to unload from, as the tallies from both Necas and Kral were one-timers off dishes from Kaut, who was the 24th pick in the 2017 CHL Import Draft but chose to stay with Pardubice for another season. Keep in mind, Kaut isn’t just some sort of flashy playmaker — he’s a highly-responsible 200-foot player who plays in all situations.”
— Steve Kournianos/The Draft Analyst
“With so many players trying to make a name for themselves, it can be anywhere from difficult to almost impossible to stand out in a crowd, especially after a disappointing start to a season. That’s where Czech winger Martin Kaut found himself after a poor showing at the Five Nations tournament. That didn’t stop Kaut from making the World Junior Championship a personal showcase of how talented he is. He finished the tournament with seven points in seven games. He played on a line with Martin Necas and Filip Zadina and looked comfortable playing the playmaking role. Whether he was distributing the puck with precision, as evidenced by his three primary assist game, or burying his chances, Kaut was one of the best players of the entire tournament. How much attention has Kaut received since? He beat out his fellow countryman Zadina for a spot on the World (Championship) roster for the Czech Republic. This says something about Kaut and the kind of player he is.”
— Mark Scheig/The Hockey Writers