The Jan Kovar saga has officially ended with the New York Islanders. Brought in as a free agent from the KHL, Kovar has been officially placed on unconditional waivers. The move limits the Islanders options down the middle.
We all saw it coming. Just five days ago the New York Islanders indicated that Jan Kovar was taking time to figure out his next step. This came after the Islanders sent Jan Kovar to the AHL at the start of the season.
Five days later Jan Kovar has made his choice clear. The Islanders were placing Kovar on unconditional waivers with the aim to terminate his contract. Kovar doesn’t want to play in the AHL to try and earn a spot in the NHL. He’ll take his chances elsewhere.
Again, we saw it coming once he wasn’t listed on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers roster. But its still remarkable how he showed up and was gone almost as quickly.
Hidden Pool of Talent
On July 9th, 2018 the New York Islanders signed Jan Kovar to a single year $2 million contract. The point-per-game KHL player was coming over to show that he could play in the NHL.
The Islanders clearly preferred Brock Nelson to Kovar as the second line center. In training camp, Kovar was typically paired with either AHL bound players or guys who were on the fringe of the roster.
Signs looked encouraging for Jan Kovar as he made it passed all the cuts. On September 17th, The Athletic’s Arthur Staple spoke to a number of people (subscription required), including Kovar, about what the Czech center could bring to the Islanders.
Kovar’s former assistant coach for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL Mike Pelino indicated that Kovar was a “hidden pool of talent”. Pelino raved about what Kovar bring to the Islanders.
And through four pre-season games, it was all over for Kovar. He was sent to Bridgeport where he clearly decided he didn’t want to play and decided to stay away.
Kovar gave up the $2 million on his deal to preferably play somewhere else.
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It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see him play at the NHL level. I’m sure it’s something that he’ll be thinking of for years. For now, the hope of playing in the NHL is over for Kovar. And the New York Islanders find themselves with few options at the center position if Brock Nelson reverts to form come November.