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Islanders old takes exposed: Jan Kovar failed attempt at NHL

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 22: #43 Jan Kovar of EV Zug looks on during the Swiss National League game between Lausanne HC and EV Zug at Vaudoise Arena on October 22, 2019 in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 22: #43 Jan Kovar of EV Zug looks on during the Swiss National League game between Lausanne HC and EV Zug at Vaudoise Arena on October 22, 2019 in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)
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Remember Jan Kovar? He was part of the wave of free agents signed by Lou Lamoriello in his first year as New York Islanders President and GM. But unlike most of his signings from that offseason, Kovar had no previous NHL experience. It was a big gamble to bring him over, a gamble I was sure would work.

Kovar came straight out of the KHL. Where, admittedly, he had good numbers. The Czech center had put up 286 points in 285 games before signing with the Islanders. He was a pretty good player in Russia maybe he could be something in North America with the retooling Islanders?

I don’t know about you, but I totally got swept away in the Kovar-kraze.

Thinking back on Jan Kovar’s tenure with the New York Islanders

Signed to a single year $2 million deal I was sure that Kovar would become the team’s second-line center behind Mathew Barzal. At the very least he’d be in the running for that second-line center spot with Brock Nelson.

And boy was I wrong. Kovar didn’t even make the team out of camp. And then in an extra twist didn’t even report to Bridgeport. Instead, he opted to sign an ATO with the Providence Bruins. He’d score ten points in 12 games with the Bruins AHL affiliate in 2018-19.

Meanwhile, Brock Nelson would have a breakout year as the Islanders second-line center with his first 25 goal season since 2015-16 and a career-high 53 points.

I was sure the Islanders wouldn’t have brought in a $2 million player unless they were going to play him. And again, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Which is why I’m waiting to see how this Golyshev situation turns out.

That’s where this whole Jan Kovar angle originated. I was looking at open roster spots in 2021-22 and thought about Golyshev on the Islanders third line.

Sure the Islanders draft pick from 2014 has finally come to North America from his native Russia, but there’s no guarantee that he makes this veteran-heavy squad. He could very well start the season in the AHL and if he plays well, maybe they bring him into the NHL roster.

But thinking about Kovar made me realize how wrong I was a few years back. And I wanted to circle back on that take to throw myself under the bus for entertainment purposes.

PS: Kovar is doing well. Since leaving the Islanders he’s landed in Switzerland where he’s playing a starring role with EV Zug. He has 108 points in 102 games over the last two years.

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