As NHL Free Agency began this year on July 1st, Kyle Okposo of the New York Islanders was one of the top players being targeted. The right winger who was drafted by the Islanders back in 2006, played his entire career within the Islanders organization. Okposo, who played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota, left his college team in December of 2007 to officially join the Islanders and start his professional career. Shortly after this summer’s free agency window opened on July 1st, Okposo inked a seven-year $42 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres.
At 28, the Sabres are getting a player who is probably in the prime of his career. He’s a high-quality scoring winger who brings a strong physical build. This helps him play a power game in the offensive end which could result in more scoring punch for the Sabres. He has topped 20 goals three times in his career and has topped 50 points in a season four times with a high of 69 points in the 2013-14 season.
Okposo took to The Players Tribune on July 11th to say his goodbyes to Long Island and the many Islanders fans he played for.
“I’m not a perfect player. I went through some pretty rough times with my game. The Isles’ fans and organization stuck by me. I’ll forever be grateful for that”
He went on to say, “I’ll never forget my time as an Islander. It was so special to me. Thank you so much to all the Isles fans who stuck with us through thick and thin. Your loyalty meant so much to me and the team”
From a Sabres perspective, the signing of Okposo will definitely pay dividends for the team in the short term. They are getting a strong scoring winger in the prime of his career. The hope is that he will be able to contribute on one of their two top lines for several years to come. But by the end of the contract he will be around 34 years of age. The wear and tear of the NHL can slow down even some of the league’s strongest and best players.
In order to acquire players the caliber of Okposo, teams need to sweeten their offers with additional years and lots of money. You can’t really blame the players for taking it. They are only in the game a short time and want to make as much as they can while they are. However, long-term investments in athletes in any sport are always a bit risky. But teams who are chasing a championship are always trying to win today and that’s what fans expect.
The hope here is that the player and the team both get what they want. The Sabres would like to give Buffalo a Stanley Cup while Okposo wants to get one himself.
And wouldn’t that work out well for everyone?