The New York Islanders began the season last night without Jan Kovar on the roster.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers announced their opening roster today and Jan Kovář was not there, either.
It seems the summer signing from the KHL isn’t inclined to take this assignment to the AHL. Or at least, he’s taking time to figure out his next move, according to the team via Arthur Staple of the Athletic.
Certainly this can’t be what he expected when he made the leap. Joining a team that had a horrible finish last season and had just lost its #1 center, Kovář probably thought the Islanders would be a good fit for him to prove himself in North America. He took a one-year deal worth a reported $2 million.
But for whatever reason, he did not impress in camp and didn’t seem to get a lot of action. Brock Nelson was designated as the #2 center pretty early on, and of course Valtteri Filppula was welcomed with open arms to join Nelson, Casey Cizikas and Mathew Barzal down the middle.
Kovář was accustomed to playing with some high-caliber players in the KHL, where he produced around a point-per-game pace. However, at the time of the July signing there was reason to view that with caution, in terms of whether he’d translate to the NHL:
Jan Kovar's a good C, but his production could be a bit deceptive, cause he played along Sergei Mozyakin and Danis Zaripov, two great wingers, one of the best in KHL history. That line had a great chemistry. A year ago Zaripov left and Kovar saw a decline in his production https://t.co/jo3pyZY3Hc— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) July 9, 2018
There was talk during camp of him needing some work to learn the North American game. That may be code for “doing the normal, boring defensive things you have to do if you’re not on a featured scoring line and the powerplay.” Fillpula, late in his career, is clearly fine taking that role.
But Kovář is 28, and maybe this isn’t a fit for him. Maybe he’d rather not take the bus in Bridgeport to find out. Maybe that’s only the fallback if he can’t arrange something more to his liking.
We’ll find out soon enough, maybe from Agent Allan Walsh. For now, Bridgeport has one less veteran to worry about scratching.