2018 NHL draft profile: Martin Kaut, a Czech winger similar to Jakub Voracek

2018 NHL draft profile: Martin Kaut, a Czech winger similar to Jakub Voracek

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 NHL draft, we're providing prospect profiles and how those players would fit with the Flyers, who have two first-round picks — Nos. 14 and 19.

The NHL draft takes place June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Flyers have nine picks with two in the first, fifth and seventh rounds and one in the second, fourth and sixth. They do not own a third-rounder as it went to the Detroit Red Wings for Petr Mrazek. The 14th pick conveyed from the Brayden Schenn trade. The final details were Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost) and the 14th pick.

Our prospect profiles will touch mostly on prospects projected to go in the 10-20 range but some may require the Flyers having to trade up to select. We’ll identify those prospects.

Martin Kaut

Position: Right winger 
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 175
Shoots: Right
Team: HC Dynamo Pardubice, Extraliga

Scouting report
Kaut took a big jump over the latter half of the season as his play improved with Pardubice in Extraliga (the highest level of pro hockey in the Czech Republic) and with the Czech national team at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships, where he scored seven points in seven games.

The most noticeable trait that stands out for me is his unselfish, playmaking ability in which he has very good instincts and seems to possess an elite hockey sense of where his teammates are on the ice at all times. He appears most comfortable on the power play, where he sets up in the left circle.

Although he’s not a ferocious forechecker, Kaut is very good at protecting the puck in the corners and along the boards. Defenders have a tough time digging the puck out from under him.

Kaut also doesn’t shy away from backchecking as he’s very good at using his body, particularly his hips and stick defensively to play a disruptive game and separate the opponent from the puck. For his 6-foot-1 frame, Kaut skates well but seems to lack the explosiveness that can separate him from a defender.   

There’s nothing that Kaut does tremendously well, but he has a lot of very good attributes to his game that would carry over to the NHL. Although he has an impressive release on his shot, I don’t see him as being a high goal-scoring forward but definitely one that has the ability to rack up assists.   

He needs to fill out his frame a little more.

Fit with Flyers
Right now, Kaut is projected to be selected in the 20-35 range of the draft, which would put him outside the Flyers' top two picks. I think the Flyers can do better than Kaut at No. 19 overall, but if he slides into Day 2, teams should have him high on their draft boards. 

Kaut has the potential to be a solid second-line and definitely third-line winger for the Flyers and I see some similarities with Czech native Jakub Voracek. Kaut doesn’t have the ability to overpower players and carry the puck into the zone like Voracek does, but the offensive elements are comparable.

What is Kaut’s potential ceiling and can he continue his upward path in his development? That’s the question the Flyers' organization has to answer in its assessment of Kaut. If the team believes he’s just scratching the surface, he could be a very exciting prospect.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

Profile: Grigori Denisenko

Profile: Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Profile: Serron Noel

Profile: Joel Farabee

• Profile: Barrett Hayton

• Profile: Isac Lundestrom

• Profile: Joseph Veleno

• Profile: Vitali Kravtso

James van Riemsdyk can change everything for Flyers

James van Riemsdyk can change everything for Flyers

As the Flyers plodded through a 4-7-0 start, there were issues abound.

They even felt endless.

And while the problems piled and the panic spread rampant, nobody seemed to remember James van Riemsdyk.

You know, the guy that scored 36 goals last season and signed with the Flyers during the summer for five years, $35 million. The guy that the Flyers have been without since the first period of the season's second game, when he suffered a lower-body injury after taking a puck to the knee.

The van Riemsdyk reunion was the biggest reason the Flyers would be different this season, why they were expected to make their largest stride of the Ron Hextall era.

But there was an outside sense that van Riemsdyk wouldn't have made much of a difference during the Flyers' season-opening funk — almost as if his absence didn't factor into the struggles whatsoever or his presence couldn't alleviate the bleeding.

All of which is ridiculous.

JVR is not just a piece, he's a big-time player. The Flyers will start to feel that soon, possibly this week, and the production speaks for itself.

His 36 goals last season were tied for 13th in the NHL, ahead of names like David Pastrnak, Auston Matthews and Sidney Crosby. His 65 goals over the past two seasons are tied for 15th with John Tavares. And he has 136 goals in 365 games since the start of the 2013-14 season, despite playing just 40 contests in 2015-16. The only players with more goals in 365 or fewer games are Evgeni Malkin (153 goals, 326 games), Nikita Kucherov (147 goals, 365 games) and Steven Stamkos (140 goals, 291 games).

When the Flyers went 2-5-0 from Oct. 13-27, they had trouble scoring with just 15 goals, tied for 25th in the league. They were a perimeter team and a player like van Riemsdyk would have changed those trends.

The Maple Leafs last season set franchise records with 49 wins and 105 points. In victories, van Riemsdyk had 42 points (25 goals, 17 assists). In losses, he had just 12 points (11 goals, one assist). Toronto was drastically better when van Riemsdyk was scoring at even strength and on the power play.

This season, from Oct. 13-Nov. 4, the Flyers' man advantage went 2 for 28, which was 30th in the league at 7.1 percent. Even with the team's 5-0-1 stretch, the power play is still 28th in the NHL at 13.8 percent.

Imagine what the Flyers can do when the man advantage is clicking? Van Riemsdyk possesses that game-changing ability as one of the more skilled and proficient net-front players in the league. 

When the Flyers were scrambling and trying everything to ignite their power play, van Riemsdyk would have been a simple solution. In fact, the Flyers' man advantage wouldn't be in this trouble had van Riemsdyk been healthy.

Of course, aside from offense, the Flyers have had other worries, too. However, van Riemsdyk's size alone at 6-foot-3, 217 pounds is impactful in multiple ways. He's not the defensive liability some deem him as, nor is he a one-dimensional player.

Recently, the tune has shifted a bit on the Flyers.

Don't be surprised if van Riemsdyk changes the whole narrative.

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Where does James van Riemsdyk fit on red-hot Flyers?

Where does James van Riemsdyk fit on red-hot Flyers?

VOORHEES, N.J. — Sitting with the fourth-liners in their white practice sweaters, James van Riemsdyk looked like a neon golf ball in a bucket of Titleists.

JVR was the only Flyer wearing a yellow sweater on Monday as the odd man out still working his way into game shape. Before too long, van Riemsdyk will be reintegrated onto one of the Flyers’ four lines.

Right now, the only logical spot for JVR once he’s cleared to return is on the Flyers' third line, which speaks to how well this team is performing at even strength. Van Riemsdyk would in all likelihood bump Dale Weise, who’s been playing some of his best hockey since joining the Flyers in 2016.  

Without van Riemsdyk, the Flyers have already posted 56 goals (3.35 per game) through their first 17 games this season, which is currently tied for ninth best in the NHL. Last season, they had scored 50 goals at the 17-game mark. Even more impressively, the Flyers have put up that much offense with a rather ineffective power play that ranks 28th in the league.

At the moment, the second line appears to be an untouchable group with Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek producing quality scoring opportunities almost nightly. That trio has manufactured six goals and 12 assists since the game in Anaheim that kick-started the Flyers’ 5-0-1 stretch.

“You could tell in practice today the pace was really high and we were enjoying it," Voracek said. "It’s a little bit different than the beginning of the year.

“It all depends on how the players are playing. Sometimes you can have the depth and not everybody can perform the way you want them to be. Right now, the way we’re going I think we’re playing good hockey. The special teams’ numbers aren’t where we want them to be, but we’re winning games, so we’re playing good 5-on-5.”

It’s essentially the same roster during the second half of last season with the younger players, most notably Lindblom and Patrick, a little more experienced now. A better indication of their scoring balance is that, according to Corsica Hockey, the Flyers have tallied 40 even-strength goals, tied for fourth in the league, and they’re starting to dominate at even strength.

Claude Giroux hasn’t budged from the remarkable numbers he put up in 2017-18. In fact, Giroux is currently outpacing his point total from a season ago. The captain is currently on pace for a 106-point season after claiming the NHL’s third star of the week honors. Sean Couturier has also shifted into another gear following a slow start that may have contributed from his delicate workload in training camp.

“I’d say since that Western trip, that’s where it all started,” Couturier said. “As a line I think we moved better, we supported each other and since then that’s when I’ve started to feel pretty good.”  

Two weeks ago, the Flyers were desperate to get van Riemsdyk back on the ice. Now as one of the hottest teams in hockey, it’s a matter of working van Riemsdyk back into a role that works for the entire team without disrupting the cohesion that’s currently working.

“The key for any player is you want to carve out a good role where you’re comfortable and a situation to help the team have success,” van Riemsdyk said. “Especially being a new guy, that’s obviously a process and there’s different combinations that will get tried.”

Right now, it’s definitely a good process to have.

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