Jan Kovar has not reported to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. And now the recent KHL acquisition by the New York Islanders is taking time to figure out his next step. Brock Nelson better work out.
In the offseason, New York Islanders President and GM Lou Lamoriello acquired the free agent and former KHL star Jan Kovar. After five years playing in the KHL, Kovar was ready to take his skills to the NHL.
In those five years playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk Kovar put up 286 points in 285 games played. The hype was high for the Czech centerman. With the loss of John Tavares, the Islanders needed strength down the middle. Even if that meant taking a chance on a player that had never played in North America.
The Islanders and Kovar signed a single-year $2 million deal. A show me deal. Prove that you can play at the NHL level and you can get your big payday.
But with the Islanders reliance on
as the number two center and with a number of bottom six acquisitions Kovar found himself without a spot as the Isles roster was finalized. And before the NHL regular season started he was loaned to the team’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
I Ain’t Goin’
On Friday, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers released their 26-man roster for the start of the AHL season. Devon Toews, Kieffer Bellows, and Josh Ho-Sang all featured. Jan Kovar’s name was nowhere to be found.
Which led fans to ask: “Where’s Kovar?”
Hours later, The Athletic’s Arthur Staple tweeted out that Jan Kovar had not reported to the Sound Tigers and was taking time to consider his options. Jan Kovar’s future in the NHL may be over before it even began.
It’s entirely possible that Jan Kovar just isn’t good enough. While he was a point-per-game player in the KHL, his last season in Russia saw his production drop by almost half from 63 points in 59 games during the 2016-17 season to 35 points in 54 games during the 2017-18 season.
Jan Kovar is likely on the way out and it leaves the New York Islanders entirely reliant on Brock Nelson being the best Brock Nelson he can be as the team’s number two center.
He added an assist on the Valtteri Filppula goal against Carolina during the Islanders season opener and showed a glimpse of some good 200-foot play during the game. But this is Brock Nelson after all.
Brock Nelson is notorious for having a fantastic opening month before drifting off in the middle of the season. In October, Brock scores at a rate of 0.76 points per game over his career. He doesn’t eclipse 0.47 points per game in any other month.
If Brock Nelson can be as consistent as he his in October throughout the season, the Isles are looking at a 62 point player. More importantly, that definitely fills the Isles need for a good and productive second line center. But there’s nothing in Brock Nelson’s five year NHL career to suggest he will be that 62 point player.
With Jan Kovar on his way out, the Islanders are losing their best option at center. It’s possible he wasn’t going to be good enough for the role, but it’s not like the New York Islanders gave him much of a chance. Kovar got two preseason games to impress his new team.
For a player coming to a new country, where he didn’t necessarily speak the language, and having to adjust to a small ice surface, it was going to be a tall task. It’s difficult enough for player who’ve been traded within the league to settle in a new surrounding let alone doing what Kovar was trying to do.
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The organization took a chance with Kovar and it didn’t work out. Now they have to hope their second gamble, trying to turn Brock Nelson into a viable second line center in the NHL turns out better.