The Buffalo Sabres secured the services of one of the top scoring wingers available on the free agent market.
Statistically Speaking looks at the Sabres’ deal for Kyle Okposo.
The Sabres Get: RW Kyle Okposo
Okposo, 28, is a high-quality scoring winger with a stocky build who can play a power game in the offensive zone. He’s a three-time 20-goal scorer who has topped 50 points four times.
Over the past three seasons, no 2016 free agent forward has put up more points.
TOP SCORING FREE AGENT FORWARDS (2013-2014 THROUGH 2015-2016)
|Kyle Okposo||N.Y. Islanders||RW||210||67||117||184|
|David Backes||St. Louis||C/RW||233||74||86||160|
|Milan Lucic||Los Angeles||LW||242||62||96||158|
That certainly comes, at least in part, as a result of skating alongside John Tavares with the Islanders, but Okposo didn't play exclusively with Tavares (more with Frans Nielsen last season) and going to Buffalo, where they have Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly down the middle, isn’t going to leave Okposo without a quality playmaking centre.
Signed for seven years and $42-million, Okposo doesn’t come cheaply for the Sabres and there will be concern about whether he can remain productive, to at least contribute in a top-six role through age 34.
The Islanders are looking at some significant changes up front, with players both coming and going via free agency, and Okposo’s decision to depart leaves a significant hole on the right side. Ideally, the Islanders would have a young player like Ryan Strome step up to produce in a more prominent scoring role.
Verdict: Long-term investments are risky propositions for most players (see the top-scoring wingers 33 and older last season) and while Okposo is a skilled player who should be an immediate upgrade in Buffalo, he will need to age well for the Sabres to still like the idea of paying a $6-million cap in the later years of this deal. On the whole, I cautiously approve.
Scott Cullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org