Avalanche 2018 Draft: Day 1 – Kaut and Grubauer

Hints of an Avs trade were dropping all afternoon and just before the fun began we got confirmation they had made a deal for goalie Philipp Grubauer. Then, after a fairly wild first 15 picks Sakic grabbed the mike and announced they were selecting Czech winger Martin Kaut. After calm, careful reflection I’d say they had a solid and profitable day.

My first reaction to the Grubauer trade wasn’t very positive. The Avs have a propensity to mortgage the future to make up for organizational deficiencies in the present, which is admirable but often counter-productive. They also tend to focus on specific players and overpay rather than looking at roles and value first.

All that aside, Grubauer is at the very least a solid backup with possible starter upside that’s just entering his prime. Sakic’s post-draft presser allayed some of my fears, mainly that they would hang on to Brooks Orpik for this season, and provided some insight into why they made this trade. There were competitive offers that they had to beat so losing what seems to be a pretty valuable 47th overall pick hurts but in the long run will hopefully pay off. This move will take a few years to properly evaluate but I get where the Avs are coming from with not leaving the goaltending situation to chance. No one wants to see another 16-17 season happen and a great way to avoid that is to have 2, maybe even 3, goalies that can win games at the NHL level.

 

I didn’t know much about Martin Kaut going into the draft. He wasn’t able to participate in the draft combine in Buffalo due to a health issue that has since been taken care of. I trust the NHL and the Avs know 100% more about this than I do so no problem there. He also was often slotted in at #16 in various mack drafts over the past month so a bunch of people guessed right. He’s a highly skilled right-shot RW which is something badly needed at all levels of the organization. Drafted out of the Czech League means that he has plenty of options next year – staying at home, playing in the CHL as an import or more likely beginning his North American pro career with the Colorado Eagles. If he does go to the AHL his contract can slide like Mikko Rantanen’s did in his first pro season as long as he plays less than 10 NHL games. The one thing that is unclear is if he can participate fully in development camp next week so stay tuned.

I asked our trusty BR staffers for some quick takes on the Kaut pick and Grubby trade and here’s where they are so far:

Nathan Chapman:

After my initial anger of the Avs passing on my fav Ty Smith wore off I’ve come around to being ok with this pick. Kaut impressed me at the WJC and had a decent year in the Czech league. Kaut is a complete player who while he doesn’t do anything elite he also doesn’t have any glaring flaws. His heart condition could be an issue down the road but if the Avs medical staff are confident it won’t be then I’ll go along with them. He’s a fairly advanced player for his age and is a late birthday so he could be in the NHL rather quickly. He’s already said he plans on coming to North America next year but whether he plays for the Avalanche, Eagles (AHL) or Wheat Kings (Own his WHL rights) is to be determined. Is more of a safer pick but does have plenty of skill and upside. See him following a similar path as Jost in that he’ll be in the NHL after his D+1 year and likely end up a mid 6 winger as well.

I’m ok with the price the Avs paid to get Grubauer but for me it came a year too early as it won’t show much confidence in Varly and raises the chances that he leaves when his contract is up next year. I’m also not overly sold on Grubauer himself but with the lack of high end goalie prospects in the system the Avs felt the need to get an advanced goalie who might be capable of being the starter. I’m hoping it ends up like the Schneider to New Jersey deal a few years ago but think it’s much more likely to be similar to the Lehner/Darling ones. We’ll see how Varly reacts to a true net sharing role and see if Grubauer is the real deal or if he flounders.

 

QueenJK:

Love the Kaut pick, he’s a perfect fit for the Avs and has a lot more upside than he’s getting credit for. He plays a mature good two-way game but doesn’t mean he’s lacking offense. He’s a very smart playmaker and has a good shot. Great news is sounds like Kaut is very willing to play in the AHL next year. Kaut could be Mikko 2.0 in both timeline to the NHL and even impact. The heart issue was minor and taken care of, there shouldn’t be any concerns moving forward. Avs hit a total home run here, a fantastic pick at 16.

Mixed feelings on the trade but I’m coming around on it. Good to hear the Avs have no intention of dressing Orpik and finally used cap space as an asset. Giving up #47 hurts especially since it takes core player trades to get that kind of pick capital back in the bank plus that level of a pick isn’t a guarantee but #47 gets you a Sam Girard on occasion. If a second was earmarked for a goalie anyway then I understand using it to get one who can contribute now but the Avs still need a high upside goalie prospect and we’ll see what type of pick they plan to invest second day of the draft for one.

 

Rudo also did and Avalanche Review on these topics along with this shift-by-shift video on Kaut:

 

The draft continues today with rounds 2 through 7 and the Avs still have #58, #78, #109, #140, #171 and #202 to select. We’ll have much more to come in the following weeks and months including a Burgundy Radio Podcast hitting the air on Monday.

 

Thanks to Nathan and QueenJK for a the quick takes and QueenJK again for the feature photo live from Dallas.

earl06

Scoring LW, punchy climber for the Ardennes classics, spirit guide

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