Derek Grant of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Matt Taormina of the Calgary Flames have been placed on waivers today according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. New York Islanders forward Jan Kovar has also been placed on the unconditional variety in order to terminate his contract.
While Grant and Taormina are both interesting options, the focus today will be on Kovar whose NHL career will end before it even starts. The Islanders signed Kovar out of the KHL for $2MM this past offseason, but cut him near the end of training camp and tried to send him to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL. Kovar didn’t report to the minor league club and will likely head back overseas as soon as his contract is terminated. The 28-year old forward will give up his entire contract, and the Islanders will not have to carry any penalty against the salary cap.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen a KHL player fail to crack an NHL squad, as just last season the Vegas Golden Knights went through a similar situation with Vadim Shipachyov. While they had to deal with a multi-year contract termination, Kovar at least was only signed to a one-year deal and isn’t giving up a huge amount. In fact, he’ll likely sign a more lucrative contract in the KHL if he returns, given his success there through five seasons.
Grant could be a target for various teams around the league, as he’s coming off a season where he scored a career-high 24 points in 66 games. Though that was partially due to the fact he was forced into an increased role while the Anaheim Ducks dealt with injury woes, he’s been a strong scoring threat at the minor league level for some time. Clearly not fitting into the Penguins plans right now, Grant is only on a one-year deal at the league minimum and could provide some forward depth to desperate teams.