( Photo Credit: Steven Ryan )
By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
Let me start by saying this article is in no way bashing the player or the opinions of a fan base that would like to see free agent forward Jan Kovar get a shot with the Boston Bruins this season. The 28-year-old is currently playing with the Providence Bruins and is having a decent season thus far showcasing his skills to the eyes of National Hockey League managers and scouts that want to see more of him before committing. That’s right folks! The 5′-11″ 216-pound center iceman is with the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL B’s on a professional try-out and is free to go where he pleases.
Kovar was signed by the New York Islanders during the offseason as a possible solution for the departing John Tavares who as many of you know signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was an attractive gamble after his contract ended in the Kontinential Hockey League with the Metallurg Magnitogorsk where he contributed 286 points in 285 career games for a better part of five seasons. There’s no doubt he’s a talented player and could be a key asset to any NHL club, but I have some concerns from a few angles with a potential move of like this.
Lou Lamoriello says #Isles deal with Jan Kovar was always he would either make #NHL squad or have his contract terminated. Bridgeport (AHL) was not an option. No “animosity” Lou says that Kovar has changed mind.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 19, 2018
In Andrew Gross’s Tweet above the two sides walked away from each other after Kovar signed a one-year deal worth a reported $2 million back in early July of 2018. It was clearly the NHL or bust for the Czech Republic native who only been playing the North American style for a couple of months. After the departure off the Island, The Providence club came calling as they had room on their roster but the terms of the PTO signing were a bit troubling for me.
Goodbye New York, Hello Providence?
Kovar’s agent Alan Walsh’s tweet below is a clear indication of why he’s with the Providence club in the first place and while I do understand this is a business and the players’ livelihood is at the top of his priority, I consider this a little selfish of the player and a telltale sign of him being a flight risk if unhappy. I’m sure the Islanders organization asked if he’d like to stay on with the teams AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Connecticut and with a contract termination if he doesn’t make the NHL club first and foremost, one has to speculate if he doesn’t sign with the NHL Bruins he could be again on the move.
Center Jan Kovar has signed a PTO with the Providence Bruins (AHL). He’s going to PLAY games and we will evaluate his NHL options in approx 3 weeks.
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) October 18, 2018
So far with the Providence Bruins, the free agent veteran has 4-6-10 numbers in 12 games played but has suddenly dipped off offensively in the last five games posting only two assists. He recently took a leave of absence from the Providence club as he was not seen at practices or any team training sessions between weekend games spurring the speculation that a deal either in the NHL or an organization calling from overseas was showing interest. The tweets below paint a very good picture of his intentions if not signed soon.
Jan Kovar hasn’t been to Providence training or games in three days now, and he’s ‘looking at his options’ through KHL, NLA and Extraliga. He’s got some NA interest but he doesn’t want to play in the AHL.
— Marcus Griep (@marcus_griep) November 22, 2018
Jan Kovar returns for Providence Bruins tonight vs. Lehigh Valley. Took some time this week to sort thru contract options, missing Wed. game, but now he’s back, still on PTO
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) November 24, 2018
Where To Now?
Obviously, the Boston Bruins have been hit with the injury bug and the demand for secondary scoring is a desperate need but if Kovar is indeed signed to an NHL contract from the B’s what is it going to take salary cap wise and what would the contract details be? It sounds to me that he’s all in on a one-way deal and by the way, his contract was handled with the Islanders a two-way deal that could potentially have him returned to the AHL would be a no-go for him and his agent. Some seem to believe under the agreement of an “AHL PTO,” the parent club can just call them up if needed but in fact, he will need an NHL contract of some sorts to even step on the ice of the greatest hockey league in the world. In my opinion, if you want to get to the promised land, put in the work like a professional and go through the rigors like so many deserving players have done in the past.
Jan Kovar ends up coming back to play with Providence tonight against Lehigh Valley. Ends up with no points and a -3 rating in a 6-3 win. #Bruins
— Marcus Griep (@marcus_griep) November 25, 2018
Also, what does a move like this do to the minds of prospects that have worked hard to get to the NHL as a member of this organization? Not a very good message in my opinion when you pass over players of your own to take a gamble on one that’s only played in this part of the world and smaller ice surfaces for a short time. As a non-professional person that’s streamed every Providence Bruins game this season, I do agree that Kovar has some impressive skills that he brings to the table but his foot speed is far from NHL caliber and needs more improvement. If he agrees to an AHL deal, all attributes of his game can be worked on and done so under the umbrella of the B’s organization only and not from the plentiful eyes of 30 other teams.
Next step for Jan Kovar could be practicing with #NHLBruins. Offensive-minded centerman has 4-6-10 in 12 games on PTO with Providence
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) November 28, 2018
As a fan and a person that follows this Bruins organization closely, I am more apt to give opportunities at a higher level from our own regardless of skill and what was done in other leagues participating in other countries. Even though B’s General Manager had some good things to say about Kovar in a tweets below from Providence Journal’s Bruins writer Mark Divver, I still have to believe that the puck is in Kovar’s corner, and it’s up to him to prove to the Bruins brass that he can be a team player and do what’s right instead of expecting this opportunity and pass many developing members of this organization ahead of him.
Don Sweeney on Kovar: ‘Smart player. I really like the skills, top of the circles down in the offensive zone. What probably surprises me a little bit, coming from (the KHL), is how gritty he is, as far as playing in high traffic, possession’
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) November 10, 2018
Sweeney: ‘The obvious thing is skating. Does it hold up at the NHL level? That’s really what this has been all about. He wants to try. He believes it is. We felt that offensively, with the experience that he has, that he would bring something to the group, and he has’
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) November 10, 2018
Take a look at the article below from the Eyes on Isles website. It seems fans of the New York Islanders are happy with the two sides walking away from each other and in fact got outplayed by a better Brock Nelson who’s been with the team for a number of years.
— Eyes on Isles (@eyesonislesFS) November 21, 2018