It’s been no mystery that the Bruins have been looking for top-six forward help for the bulk of this season.
They certainly tried to address it in the offseason with the pursuit of Ilya Kovalchuk and John Tavares. They’ve also shored up their veteran options with a couple of established players on tryout deals with the organization.
The Bruins still have Lee Stempniak skating with the team at times on a tryout basis through the first few months of the season and they’ve also called up Czech forward Jan Kovar from his AHL tryout deal to take a look at him as well. The undrafted Kovar, 28, has spent the past five seasons in the KHL playing for Magnitogorsk Metallurg, but signed on with the Providence Bruins on a tryout basis this fall to give North American hockey a shot.
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He was up with the Bruins at practice for the second time on Friday skating in David Krejci’s place and it’s expected the Bruins are going to make a decision on him “fairly soon.”
"There are clearly skills. He’s proven that in Providence, he’s put up numbers in the past,” said Cassidy of Kovar, who topped 20 goals and 60 points in three of his five KHL seasons. "It’s just is he going make us a better team or do we like what we have, and want to work with what we have? That’s the ultimate question."
There isn’t much question about Kovar’s overall hands and offensive skill and he should have enough strength at 5-foot-11, 216 pounds, to handle the NHL physicality. It will come down to his ability to keep up with the NHL pace with his skating and the two-way game where he struggled in Providence with a minus-11 despite posting four goals and 10 points in 12 games.
In the wake of Boston’s injuries and the ineffectiveness of some of their young players such as the recently demoted Anders Bjork, it’s clear the Bruins do need help up front as they scour the trade market for some reinforcements. Give credit also to the B’s for doing their due diligence with Kovar and allowing the NHL coaching staff to get a look at him in practice.
Still, the Bruins need to be setting their sights a lot higher than a KHL retread if they’re looking to find somebody who's going to add offensive pop, necessary experience and a little rugged physicality to their forwards.
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