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Martin Kaut sees this as his "last chance" to secure a job with the Avalanche

Jesse Montano Avatar
September 23, 2022

On the Eve of the Colorado Avalanche officially opening their 2022-2023 campaign, we here at DNVR did our annual Training Camp Preview podcast. It’s a fun and exciting show to do every year because it really does (at least in my head) serve as the official start of a new hockey season.

So much optimism, so much hope. Not just for the results that any one team can achieve, but it’s also the last chance of the offseason to truly dream on a specific player’s potential. Once players get on the ice, the harsh realities of life begin to set in. 

Perhaps that team whose offseason you loved so much just doesn’t quite gel the way you thought they would, or maybe… the prospect you thought was absolutely ready to take the next step, just never does. 

The latter of those two “harsh realities” feels like it has been a movie stuck on repeat for far too many of the Avalanche’s top prospects in recent years.

Think of guys like Shane Bowers, Martin Kaut, Nick Henry. Going back a little further, AJ Greer, Duncan Siemens, Chris Bigras, Spencer Martin. All players seemed poised to have big roles within the organization and were just never able to get there.

I made a comment, on that Camp Preview pod I was just talking about, saying how I felt particularly bad for one of the names on that list, Colorado’s 2018 first-round pick (16th overall) Martin Kaut. It feels like the conversation surrounding him has been the same since he first decided to come to North America to play for the Avs’ AHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles, at the start of the 2018-2019 season.

When the Avalanche selected Kaut, it came with a certain level of uncertainty, beginning with the heart condition that removed him from the NHL Combine process. While Kaut had the condition corrected, it was the first in what has been an endless string of questions stalking his path to the NHL.

From a hockey perspective, Kaut was considered to be a high-floor, low-ceiling type of prospect, the type of prospect where the odds of getting an NHL player were considered high, but the odds of him becoming more than a solid 3rd liner were low.

Fast forward to the present day and Martin Kaut is walking into his fifth training camp as a member of the Avalanche organization and has only managed to amass 20 total NHL games. That’s… not great. 

Full disclosure, and this may sound just a little harsh, coming into this weekend I had very little interest in talking too much about Martin Kaut. Given how crowded the Avalanche forward corps is at baseline, I had pretty much all but written in pen that Martin Kaut would once again find himself on the Eagles roster.

So what is there to talk about, right?

Well, after Kaut got done with his conditioning test (that’s how his group ended Day 1 of camp), he stopped to talk to a small gathering of reporters, including myself, and gave one of the more interesting and honest interviews I’ve heard.

In my opinion, and this is just my opinion, Martin Kaut looked and sounded defeated. This is the fifth straight year of trying to take that one last step, and to this point, he just can’t do it.

“Hopefully I will finally make the team,” Kaut said. “If not, shit happens, you know? It’s my, probably like, last chance to make it here”. 

That’s a strong statement coming directly from the player himself. Now, on one hand, you could say, wow that’s some great self-reflection from a guy who clearly understands where he’s at. While that’s true, and it was honestly my first thought, what he said next caused me to wince a bit. 

“I will do everything, and hopefully I can do that,” he continued. “You know it’s always hard here for young guys or prospects because Colorado is probably the best team in [the] NHL, and will be for [the] next five years maybe. So I will be happy if I can make it, I don’t care what role or line. I just want to be here and playing NHL.”

A couple of things here that I don’t like.

First, that sounds to me like someone who is lost, someone who doesn’t know what path they’re following anymore. It sounds like someone who is desperate. 

Look, I get it. It’s every hockey player’s dream to play in the NHL, and Martin Kaut is as close as one can get. He’s one step away, and it’s near impossible for someone like me to imagine what it feels like to be that close, yet not able to pass through the threshold. So I’m sure he is desperate, but part of my issue with Kaut’s game has always been that I haven’t ever seen him as a player who does anything unique.

There hasn’t been anything he has done that makes you say “THAT is why you drafted him”. Now to hear him say “I don’t care what role, or what line”, says to me that Kaut is no longer trying to be the best version of himself. Rather, he’s trying to be a version of what someone else wants him to be, and that almost never ends well. In any situation.

The second thing that I really just didn’t love, and I know this is super nitpicky, and I almost even hate that I feel this way but here it goes. Martin Kaut said “I will do everything” in order to finally make the NHL club out of camp, which is great and all, but about 20 minutes before he said that Martin Kaut got his butt kicked by Jared Bednar’s infamous Day 1 skating and conditioning test.

Not only was Kaut finishing last in his group, but he also didn’t even complete the final leg of ladders (blue line and back, red line and back, far blue line and back, all the way down and back)! Then to cap it off, he actually left the ice early. About 10 minutes before the group session ended.

There are a ton of factors that could go into this, a lot of which we in the media aren’t necessarily privy to all the time. I’m not going to completely drag him here for something that I may not have the details on, but if I’m in his shoes? No chance am I heading to the locker room early.

Kaut is right, he’s on his last chance here in Colorado. If he hasn’t shown that he is capable of making the jump to the NHL by this year’s trade deadline, I think there’s a great chance that the Avs move on from him as they try to acquire players who can help them win another Stanley Cup now.

Even Jared Bednar acknowledged it.

“I think there’s been a step that he’s needed to take for us,” he said. “And for me, it’s going to be showing it when the opportunity is given to him in exhibition games and regular season games.”

I couldn’t agree more; Martin Kaut has needed to take another step, but it feels like his game has just completely plateaued.

Bednar went on to mention that back in the ’19-’20 season Kaut had a stretch of nine games with the Avalanche in which he really impressed and was an impact player. Due to some contract implications, the Avalanche sent him back down to the AHL in order to preserve a year of his Entry Level Contract.

Since then? Well…

“When we’ve called him up since then in two, or three, or four, or five-game stretches, we haven’t seen it as effective,” Bednar explained. “He’s a trusted guy with the Eagles, he comes with high recommendations from the Eagles but it’s got to translate when he hits the ice with us in games.

“What you do in practice will get you games, what you do in games will get you more games.”

I could have just typed that one quote with the headline ATTN: M. KAUT and it really would have told the same story.

I mentioned earlier that he sounded desperate, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, I want to see that desperation manifest itself on the ice this weekend. I want to see just how desperate he is to “finally make the team.”

He has the ability to do it. He has always had the potential to be a full-time NHLer, but he’s right. This is the best team in the NHL, and chances aren’t going to be just handed out to prospects trying to crack the NHL lineup, those chances are earned. 

Martin Kaut has one last chance to earn in with the Colorado Avalanche. He knows it, and the team knows it. There’s no more wait and see, it is time to put up or shut up for Kaut. The multitude of injuries facing the Avalanche heading into the start of the season gives Kaut a wonderful opportunity to make his mark this preseason. He needs to seize this moment and make the most of it, or his time in the Avalanche organization will likely be nearing its end.


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