Big offseason UFA signing demoted to AHL

Wow! Talk about a ruthless roster cut!

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The New York Islanders have demoted forward Jan Kovar and defenseman Devon Toews to the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

 Isles Transaction: Jan Kovar and Devon Toews have been loaned to Bridgeport.

The Islanders, of course, signed Kovar earlier this offseason to a one year, $2 million contract following a stellar 2017-18 season with Magnitogorsk Mettalurg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). In 54 games with Mettalurg, the 28 year old Kovar scored seven goals and 35 points. The season prior he managed an even more impressive 23 goals and 63 points in 59 games with the club. 

Kovar was brought over from Russia in part to help the Islanders’ offense ween themselves off of departed superstar and longtime captain John Tavares. It was expected that Kovar would lock down a top six spot with the Islanders, playing alongside either Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson or Valtteri Filppula. Today’s news obvious puts  a wrench into those plans…

The funny thing is… Isles fans don’t seem all that upset about Kovar’s demotion. In fact, it’s the Toews demotion that has Isles Nation up in arms. The team’s signing of veteran Luca Sbisa effectively pushed Toews out of the rotation, necessitating the AHL demotion. The 24 year old blue liner has yet to play an NHL game in his career, despite putting up an impressive 22 points in 30 games with the Sound Tigers last season and 45 points in 76 games the season prior. The former fourth round pick (108th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft is likely to be the team’s first AHL call up in case of injury this season.

As for Kovar, who knows what his future holds? The 28 year old native of Pisek, Czech Republic has had a stellar career in Europe, but has yet to play a single game in North America, either in the NHL or AHL. He was one of Lou Lamoriello's first acquisitions as general manager of the Islanders and clearly... well let's just say that things haven't gone to plan under Lou just yet. There's still time for Kovar to earn a promotion back up to the NHL, but don't expect much from the $2 million man if and when that transpires.