This morning the Sabres juggled their lines and right winger Kyle Okposo found himself on the fourth line along side Jordan Nolan and Jacob Josefson. A clear message to the 29 year old that he needs to pick it up.
Okposo is coming off a medical scare last season where a concussion caused sleep and weight loss issues, which led to a bad reaction to his medication causing him to go to the ICU. Coming in the year, Okposo claimed he was 100% healthy and ready to play again but from the looks of it, Okposo has lost a step, maybe a couple. His speed was always one of his weaker points but his skill, shot, and possibly line mates made up for that deficiency. Now his speed, or lack thereof, has become his kryptonite. He struggles to get away from defenders, loses possession consistently, and struggles to find shooting lanes. When he does have a clear chance, he can’t seem to bury as evident of last nights game. Worst of all it looks as if he can’t think the game at quick pace anymore as well.
This demotion is a clear sign that Okposo is in the dog house. The way he is headed, Okposos contract will go down as one of the worst with the likes of Ville Leino and Matt Moulson.
The Sabres are in a tough position. One he is a leader and probably one of the best guys in the locker room. And two, his contract holds a NMC until next season when it turns into a modified-NTC, allowing him to submit a 15 no trade list. Even then Okposo could likely rule out any team willing to take on his contract, like Arizona.
Okposo is likely a third line winger going forward. He is going to add some offense but he will always be held back by his speed. The thing is, his production obviously does not warrant his contract. If the Sabres want to move his contract they will likely have to retain a good portion of his salary and/or possibly adding a pick or prospect as well.
Unless Okposo can make a 180 and return to his productive days, the Sabres would be smart to try and trade him sooner rather than later. Even an extra $3 million in cap space will help with Eichels extension kicking in and Evander Kane hitting free agency. Like I said earlier, it will be extremely difficult to trade Okposo this season. He chose Buffalo because it was a good fit for his career but also for his family. I’d be shocked if he waived his NMC.
So the Sabres sit here at a critical point wondering, “What do we do with Kyle Okposo?”.
Thank you for reading!