Home/Editorials

New York Islanders Jan Kovar Can Be Second Line Center

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 24: Jan Kovar #43 of the Czech Republic shoots against Cody Goloubef #27 of Canada in the third period 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 24: Jan Kovar #43 of the Czech Republic shoots against Cody Goloubef #27 of Canada in the third period 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 Harry How/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Imported from the KHL, Jan Kovar comes to the New York Islanders as an option for the Isles second line center. But can he fill the need?

Jan Kovar comes to the New York Islanders after playing the last five season over in the KHL. Over those five seasons, he’s put up 286 points in 285 games played. He’s signed to a single year $2 million deal.

The Isles clearly like him but like most of us, they don’t know what to expect from Kovar in the NHL. For every KHL to NHL success story like Alex Radulov with the Montreal Canadiens, there’s also a failed attempt to play in North America like Vadim Shipachyov with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Diving into Kovar’s KHL career, what type of player are the Islanders getting? What are his strengths and his weaknesses, and can he be an effective number two center in the NHL?

What He Does Well

We already know that Kovar can play. Again, he’s over a point-per-game in his KHL career. He knows how to find the back of the net. His 13.6 percent shooting percentage over his career backs that up.

He’s also great on the draw. Over his KHL career, Kovar coverts at 56.3 percent on the faceoff circle. The Islanders best faceoff taker was Mathew Barzal with a 51 percent efficiency. The Islanders won 48.9 percent of their draws in 2017-18, getting Kovar in should help push that number upwards.

(You can consult his KHL stats page here.)

Looking over his YouTube highlight reels reveals a player that has some soft hands and a deft touch when it comes to taking a pass. Good for lining up next to a pass-first player like Josh Bailey.

What you’ll also see in that YouTube highlight package is how Kovar is able to drive the play through the middle. Sure he gets wide for a few plays, but that’s just hockey. For the majority of the time, you see Kovar playing right down the middle. Exactly what is required of a center in the NHL.

What To Look Out For

First and foremost is his discipline. Over 43 games last season with Mettalurg Magnitogorsk, Kovar had 80 penalty minutes. Over a full 82 game NHL season that’s 152 minutes. That’s 90 minutes more than the Isles closest PIM leader from last season, Ross Johnston and his 62 in 24 games.

On a number of occasions, Kovar took misconduct penalties, resulting in single game bans on two occasions last season.

Then there the fact that an NHL regular season is almost twice as long as the KHL season. With only a 43 game regular season, how will Kovar adapt to the grind of an 82 game NHL schedule? Do we see him start strong and then fade away come the All-Star break?

Want your voice heard? Join the Eyes On Isles team!

Write for us!

Next. Re-Drafting Isles 2011 Draft

Jan Kovar has everything needed to be a center at the NHL level. He just has to prove it to the likes of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz.

facebooktwitterreddit