EV Zug signed Jan Kovář, a player whose potential is enormous. We think it’s safe to say that the Czech forward is one of the most awaited players in view of next season… and we also think it’s safe to say that, potentially, he’s one of the biggest transfers of the recent years in Switzerland. We mean, on paper, Zug got a real deal…
Let’s get to know more about Jan Kovář…
Date of birth: 20 marzo 1990
Jan Kovář was born on March 20th, 1990, in Pisek. The latter is a city that has a population of more than 30’000 and that is called the “Athens of Southern Bohemia” because of its many high schools and schools of higher education like the Film School (Film Academy of Miroslav Ondricek). Pisek gave birth to several ice hockey players who also made it to professionalism… including Marek Mazanec (a goalie who collected about thirty NHL appearances), Jan Rutta (currently at the Tampa Bay Lightning) and Jakub Kovář (brother of Jan Kovář, currently playing for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg in the KHL).
THE YOUTH IN PISEK AND THE TRANSFER TO PLZEN
Jan Kovář grew as a player in the youth organization of IHC Pisek, team of the city, and then transferred to the U18 of HC Plzen during the 2005-06 season. Jan Kovář also played for the U20 in Plzen and then made his first team debut during the 2008-09 season. Jan is undrafted but his talent did not go unnoticed as the years went by, and that earned him a call from the KHL.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk signed Jan Kovář on the eve of the 2013-14 season… and the Czech forward immediately had an impact in the most prestigious league league outside the NHL. Jan spent five seasons in the KHL and turned out to be a real scoring machine (overall, he collected 368 appearances and tallied 377 points). In fact, he helped Metallurg win the Gagarin Cup in 2014 and 2016… moreover, he played his last season in Russia as the assistant captain of the team.
THE ATTEMPT OVERSEAS… AND BACK TO PLZEN
On the eve of last season then, Jan Kovář (who as we said was never drafted in the NHL) tried to fulfill his dream of playing in the most prestigious league in the world. Things, however, didn’t work out as he hoped… Jan didn’t make the cut during the summer camps and was assigned to the Providence Bruins in the AHL, where he played only 12 games (10 points) before coming back to Czech Republic and more precisely to Plzen. “Back home”, he had a great season and helped the team reach the semifinals.
This summer then, he waited to see if there was the opportunity to try again his luck in the NHL… but finally, he agreed to transfer to Zug in Switzerland… where, we’re sure, will entertain us hockey passionates!
Jan Kovář was among the most coveted players on the market… in fact, potentially, he’s one of the best forwards in Europe.
One thing is sure… wherever he played, he scored a lot of points. But ice hockey is not made of points only, we wanted to get to know more about this player. Therefore, we had the pleasure to contact again Anton Zelenko of “iDNES.cz” (he had already helped us with the Extraliga review) and we asked him what he thinks about Jan Kovář. Here are his impressions…
Jan Kovář is coming off a pretty wild season. After some good years in Magnitogorsk, he wanted to fulfill his dream and make it to the NHL. On the eve of last season, he had signed a lucrative one-year contract with the New York Islanders worth $2M… but he didn’t make the cut at the summer training camp and was reassigned to the AHL. After some weeks of struggling, he was traded to the Bruins but didn’t make it to the NHL either. So, in December, he returned to Plzeň, where he launched his international career again.
In the Czech extraliga, he re-started the season in great style. His cooperation with Milan Gulaš was amazing and those two made one of the strongest power-duos in the league. They led Pilsen to the Extraliga’s semifinals and both performed quite well during the last World Championships, where the Czechs finished 4th placed.
Kovář is a great playmaker and a scorer. He can read the game well and is able to set up perfectly his teammates. It should be added, however, that both in Magnitogorsk and Pilsen he had always top teammates in the line (Mozyakin and Gulaš). I mean, it’s hard to say if he can be a real leader also without another star playing with him.
He is considered to be a poor skater, but he compensates that with his game reading skills. Before last season, he had lost a lot of weight in order to be faster, unfortunately he didn’t make it to the NHL. But the experience probably made him stronger and more versatile.
Thank you very much, Anton!
Usually “lack of speed” and “Swiss hockey” don’t go well together… yet we think that, as Anton said, Jan Kovář’s ability to read the game will help him in order to have a great impact in Switzerland. Let us not forget, moreover, that Zug will have a very strong team next season and a deep roster. Those two facts should allow him to shine also over here.
Welcome to Switzerland, Jan!
In the U18 and in the first team in Plzen, Kovář was a teammate of Tomas Kubalik. The latter is the brother of Dominik (former HC Ambrì-Piotta) who was one of the best National League’s import of this century!
Always in Plzen then, over the years, Jan Kovář was a teammate of other players we know quite well in Switzerland. In no particular order, we name… Petr Vampola (former Genève Servette), Petr Sykora (former Bern), Geoff Kinrade (former Bern), Jaroslav Hlinka (former Kloten) and even Dominik Kubalik (former Ambrì-Piotta).
In Russia on the other hand, while playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Jan Kovář was a teammate of other players we know quite well in Switzerland… In no particular order, we name Francis Paré (former Genève Servette), Tim Stapleton (former Biel-Bienne, Lugano and Olten) and Tommi Santala (former Kloten).
Jan Kovář represented Czech Republic many times… also during the last Worlds in Slovakia. He even played against Switzerland (the Czech won 5-4) and had an assist. Jan, moreover, played already several other times against Switzerland at the World Ice Hockey Championship, but he never scored a goal (is that bad omen? 🙂 ). In fact, he even missed a shootout on May 12th, 2015. On that day, Czech Republic faced Switzerland in Prague… the Czech earned a 2-1 shootouts win, but Jan Kovář missed his shootout.