The New York Islanders announced on Wednesday that they placed Jan Kovar on unconditional waivers. They are planning to terminate the Russian forward’s contract. The team signed Kovar on July 9 this summer. The two parties agreed on a one-year, $2 million deal.
The contract was meant to bring Kovar, a KHL veteran, to the NHL. The 28-year-old has played in Russia since 2013, joining the Magnitogorsk Metallurg. Since then, he has been one of the top scorers on the team every year. In his first two seasons, Kovar scored 68 points in 54 and 60 games respectively. In the three years since, he has scored 52 points, 63 points, and a much worse 35 point season last year. He played at least 54 games each year.
Despite a dramatic drop in scoring last season, Kovar was very highly-anticipated. The Hockey News called Kovar one of ‘The Best Players in the World You’ve Never Heard of’. Still, Kovar wasn’t on the Islanders opening day roster when it was announced. When their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, announced their starting roster, Kovar also wasn’t on there. It quickly became apparent that the KHL talent wasn’t willing to come to North America to be apart of the AHL. Kovar signing in the NHL also meant he didn’t re-sign with the Metallurg. As of right now, he is not rostered with any team in the KHL.
Before the season started, the Islanders waived Tom Kuhnackl and Tanner Fritz, presumably to clear room for Kovar. However, both players stayed on the team’s NHL roster and Kovar was instead sent to the AHL. Kovar is a center and it was assumed he’d fill the spot of the recently departed John Tavares. Instead, Anders Lee and Josh Bailey have both received increased minutes in Tavares’ absence. In the three games so far this season, Lee has two goals and Bailey has four points in total.
Czech Republic’s Jan Kovar (L) controls the puck ahead of Russia’s Vladislav Gavrikov in the men’s semi-final ice hockey match between the Czech Republic and the Olympic Athletes from Russia during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung on February 23, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
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