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New York Islanders: How Jan Kovar Can Be Successful on the Second Line

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 24: Jan Kovar #43 of the Czech Republic celebrates with teammates after scoring in the third period against Canada during the Men's Bronze Medal Game on day fifteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 24, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 24: Jan Kovar #43 of the Czech Republic celebrates with teammates after scoring in the third period against Canada during the Men's Bronze Medal Game on day fifteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 24, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders signed Jan Kovar, who will likely have a shot to be their second line center in 2018-2019. Here’s how he can have success.

Yesterday, the New York Islanders went international and added Jan Kovar into the fold on a one-year $2 million deal. When I initially wrote about Kovar, I was under the assumption that he would want Ilya Kovalchuk or Alexander Radulov money.

Instead of signing a contract with a cap hit of over $6 million, Lou Lamoriello was able to add him to the fold for an affordable $2 million on a one-year contract.

What I like about this deal is it’s extremely cheap, and it’s only a one-year deal. If it doesn’t work out the Islanders can cut ties pretty early, and he is able to be sent to Bridgeport without having to go through waivers.

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All in all, the Islanders got a pretty good deal for Kovar. As we discussed last time, Kovar is a career point per game player in the KHL over the last five years but had an awful season in 2017-2018 only putting up 35 points (7 goals, 28 assists) in 54 games.

So how can the Islanders get the most out of Kovar?

Well, according to Igor Eronko his production was “deceptive” because he played with two elite wingers.

Both Zaripov and Mozyakin are 37-years-old, so they were on the back end of their career over the last five years. Mozyakin scored as many as 48 goals in the KHL, while Zaripov was more of a playmaker who topped out at around 25 goals a season.

So on one side, you have a pure goal scorer and on the other side of Kovar, there’s more of a playmaking forward. What if the Islanders lines looked something like this to recreate what made Kovar successful in the KHL:

Beauvillier – Barzal – Eberle

Lee – Kovar – Bailey

Ladd – Filppula – Komarov

Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck

The Islanders now can keep the very productive Beauvillier, Barzal and Eberle trio with a promotion to the top line, while Lee, Kovar, and Bailey take over the second line duties.

Last year was a career year for both Anders Lee and Josh Bailey. Anders eclipsed the 40 goal mark for the first time in his career and Josh Bailey had 71 points last year. Obviously, playing with a star like John Tavares helped those numbers out a little, but those two guys have become very productive top-six forwards over the past two years.

Lee, you can chalk up for 30 or more goals, while Bailey might not give you 70 points again but in the 50-60 range seems like a pretty fair and reasonable expectation for him. With Kovar in the center of those two, he should give you solid production.

If that is, in fact, the second line, my stat line predictions would look something like this for the second line:

Anders Lee: 36 goals, 19 assists (55 points)

Josh Bailey: 14 goals, 42 assists (56 points)

Jan Kovar: 22 goals, 26 assists (48 points)

Next: The Islanders have an overload of fourth liners

Obviously, it’s not the same kind of production that we saw from the Beauvillier – Barzal – Eberle line last year, but it’ll be a solid second line. If the Islanders give up less goals, which they should with Barry Trotz behind the bench, they’ll be okay with this kind of production from the second line.

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