Two offseasons ago, when the Buffalo Sabres signed forward Kyle Okposo, much was expected of the highly-touted free agent signing. In the seasons since, Okposo has been anything but a disappointment.
In these last two seasons, Okposo has averaged 44.5 games per season, despite a season-ending concussion last year. Okposo has amassed 89 points as a member of the Buffalo Sabres (34 goals, 55 assists in 141 total games).
Okposo’s inherent inability to elevate his game back to levels he saw with the New York Islanders, and most-notably forward John Tavares, has some Sabres fans up-in-arms. That leads us to the discussion of what should the Sabres be doing with Okposo this offseason. Months ago, this answer seemed a little muddied but now, the answer seems quite clear now.
The season began with Okposo seeing his first game action since a concussion and subsequent reaction to medication landed him in the Intensive Care Unit, wondering if fans would ever see Okposo on the ice again.
After zero goals and two assists in ten October games, fans started hitting the panic button. Since that dreadful October, Okposo has turned his season around and ended up tallying 15 goals in 66 games. While that might not be worth the six million dollar cap hit he is currently on the books for, Okposo has definitely been earning his game checks.
With Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel likely centering the top two lines next October, right wingers with the ability to finish are in high-demand. Luckily, Sam Reinhart appears to have developed even more into a goal-scoring option away from Jack Eichel. This cements Reinhart’s status as a second-line right winger. That leaves the top line spot open for someone. Okposo’s ability to log big minutes (17:02 time-on-ice during 2017-18 season) and play with Eichel might give him a leg up.
It is hard to say right now with the NHL Draft Lottery weeks away, where or who Buffalo will select with their high-end first round pick. If it isn’t the first overall selection and highly-touted Rasmus Dahlin, it could very well be someone who is ticketed to play with Eichel. While this could put Okposo’s stranglehold atop the lineup, it might benefit in the long run with eyes on depth scoring. Whichever situation Okposo finds himself in, it is evident that he can ever-so-smoothly slide right in and get himself comfortable.
Could someone come calling for Kyle Okposo? Sure. You can look at CapFriendly and see that the Buffalo Sabres cap situation is not in dire straits but with Sam Reinhart getting a pay increase this offseason, along with the arrival of Jack Eichel’s ten million dollar cap, there is some room to move around. One would think that teams might come calling for someone like Ryan O’Reilly first.
It is hard to envision a scenario where Okposo is traded and it ends up being a win for Buffalo. A hypothetical Okposo deal seems like it would need to be strictly a salary dump and that is not a scenario that should seem at all enticing to the Sabres front office at this point.
This option is what many should consider the nuclear option. If Jason Botterill panics and decides he needs to clear cap space immediately, this is your move.
Look below, thanks to CapFriendly, to see what a Kyle Okposo buyout looks like.
Like we warned before – the nuclear option and an ugly option at that. This option should be avoided at all costs.
This truly feels like the proper response at this time. It is hard to believe there will be teams lining up to trade for Okposo and the buyout looks painfully hard to swallow.
Give Okposo another year with a healthy offseason and a deeper lineup to see if he can elevate back to his Islander days on the scoresheet.
What should the Sabres do with Kyle Okposo?
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