This is going to be short and sweet, largely because I have written about Martin Kaut so many times in the past, including here and here. As a first-round draft pick, selected No. 16 overall, expectations have been high ever since he arrived in Colorado. And yet, he just was not delivering.
Kaut played one game for the Avalanche early in the season. He suffered an undisclosed injury somewhere between that game and the start of the AHL season, and was sidelined for the first month and a half of play. His first game back was on March 12 against the Texas Stars. It took him two games to find his groove, but on March 16, he scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Texas and he has been on fire ever since.
— Colorado Eagles (@ColoradoEagles) March 17, 2021
Just over a year ago, in February 2020, I wrote the following about Kaut:
Kaut is big, and he’s learning to use his size to his advantage. He also seems to be gaining some confidence and shooting more. But his biggest drawbacks is poor puck handling. Frequently, he brings the puck through the neutral zone, but upon gaining the blue line (and running into the other team’s defense), he almost seems to panic. He can’t juke and dangle his way through the defense or use his puck-handling to keep it out of their reach. If there isn’t somebody wide open for him to pass to, he resorts to tossing the puck up the boards for somebody else to chase.
This is the first big thing that has changed since last year—Kaut is now handling the puck better than ever. He is also using his size to barrel through the other team’s defense rather than bailing. But, more importantly, he is playing with real aggression. Whereas before, it often felt as if he was waiting for the puck to come to him, he now chases it down and takes it. Here he is on the penalty kill in the Eagles game on March 24 against the AHL’s No. 1 team, the Henderson Silver Knights.
This is Kaut on the PK last night late in the game. This is the kind of aggression we haven’t seen from him often in the past, but I sure love seeing it now. pic.twitter.com/MFfeY16uDj
Almost single-handedly, Kaut kept the Silver Knights’ power play unit from gaining the zone for a solid 20 seconds, then continued to harass them after entry before blocking a shot. This is the kind of play we rarely saw from Kaut in the past, but now we are seeing it each and every game. But, because one highlight does not tell the whole story, let me share some numbers with you.
Up until recently, Kaut was playing well, but he was nowhere near dominating. Last year, he ranked 13th on the team for points. Looking at the AHL as a whole, Kaut came in at a rather unimpressive 364th.
Kaut has only played six games so far this season. In that time, he has three goals and four assists—all in the last four games. Considering he scored five goals total all last season, those numbers are significant. Ranked by points per game, Kaut is currently 37th in the league and third on the Eagles. In fact, looking at points per game is a good indication of how far Kaut has come.
Obviously, only six games so far this season is a rather small sample size, but the numbers are still telling. Kaut is being aggressive on the puck. He is making a pest out of himself against the other team’s defense, especially on the penalty kill, and his puck control has improved greatly. Add that to the skills he already had—good size and speed and a sniper shot—and Kaut suddenly becomes one of the most formidable players on the ice.
The Eagles wrap up their seven-game road trip tonight against Henderson. After that, they return home to face the Bakersfield Condors, who are currently ranked second in the division. A lot of things could change over the next few weeks, but one thing I do not expect to change is No. 61’s determination. I feel confident in saying the Kaut we have all been waiting for has finally arrived.