One of the most improved players of this past season is Martin Kaut. The Czech winger has evolved from a pure shooter that waited in the offensive zone for a shot with a quick release on the edge of the slot, to someone who makes plays is a possession driver and has an overall impact on the game.
Birthplace: Brno, Czech Republic
Weight: 174 lbs
Youth team: HC Zdar nad Sazavou, Czech Republic
Pro team: HC Dynamo Pardubice, Extraliga
Kaut really broke through at the World Juniors playing on a line with Martin Necas and Filip Zadina. He had two goals and five assists for seven points in seven games. It also seemed that coach Filip Pesan, who coached the Czech team in the WJC in Buffalo, installed confidence in the winger that Kaut benefitted from when he returned to Pardubice.
Having registered six points (3+3) over 24 games for 0.25 PPG prior to the WJC, Kaut went on a roll after the tournament and scored 10 points (6+4) in the last 14 games of the season for a 0.71 PPG over that stretch. In the playoffs, he averaged the same 0.71 PPG with five points (3+2) in seven games.
To put this into context, Martin Kaut outperformed both Filip Chytil and Martin Necas in their draft years.
On top of that, his output in the second half of the season was much better then the first which points to the fact that he took a huge step this season. To make this even more impressive, even if Kaut got to play on the second power play line, almost all of his points came on even strength (13/16 or 81%).
During the regular season he averaged 1.6 shots per game, but he really stepped up in the playoffs in the quarterfinal series against Třinec, a series Pardubice lost in game seven. He averaged 2.3 shots per game.
Despite being a 17-year-old playing against men, Kaut had above-average possession stats. Kaut had a relative corsi of +1.8% despite the team holding 52% of possession.
Rankings (Note: not all rankings are final):
ISS Hockey: 17
Future Considerations: 34
NHL Central Scouting: 4 (International skaters)
Kaut was projected as a second-to-third round prospect before the season, but his play in the World Juniors and success in the Czech Extraliga where he had more points in less games than Martin Necas in his draft year raised his stock to first round consideration. Even though Necas was a centre, which raises his draft stock, the defensive awareness that Kaut possesses could push him into the first round.
The main strength Kaut possesses is his shot and goal scoring ability. Kaut has a very good shot, not only a wrist shot but a heavy slap shot that will be beneficial to many teams. His shot is accurate and comes with a quick release with a high accuracy. Kaut is defensively aware and a good player in his own end. He has a high hockey IQ and his success at a professional league at an early age shows his ability to process the game at a high speed.
While his skating is good, he will need to improve his first stride and acceleration to reach the NHL level but considering his willingness to work on his weaknesses even during the season, it is not something to worry about.
Overall, Kaut had a breakout year and it’s not done yet. He will play on the Czech National team at the World Championships in Denmark. His rise trough the draft rankings is another example an increased TOI in a league that is known for holding back junior players might be the best example of how much of a breakthrough Martin Kaut has had.