Kyle Okposo was one of the most notable players to switch teams this offseason. Once a member of a vaunted Islanders team that featured John Tavares, Okposo now finds himself on a rebuilt Buffalo Sabres squad. And while he might not be among the league’s elite yet, this upcoming season will be his true coming out party.
Since the start of the 2013-14 season, Okposo has recorded 184 points. Three of his last four seasons have seen him score more than 20 goals, including 27 in 2013-14. He’s been one of hockey’s more underrated players for quite some time. But how does his move to Buffalo affect his play?
Any player would be lucky to play with John Tavares, and that’s where Okposo served most of his NHL career. As he heads to Buffalo, Okposo now finds himself paired with Ryan O’Reilly, who,while not Tavares, is still a great playmaker.
O’Reilly has always been a very willing passer, evident by his 113 assists over his last three seasons. And even though that’s a tad behind the totals of Tavares in a three-year span, O’Reilly’s numbers aren’t awful.
What helps Okposo is a great first-line pairing of himself, O’Reilly and Evander Kane. Depending on the results of Kane’s troubled offseason, this has a chance to be one of the most exciting lines in all of the hockey. Both Kane and Okposo have been great goal scorers over the course of their careers, and the two will pair nicely with the pass-happy O’Reilly.
When all is said and done, Buffalo could have a potential playoff team as early as this season. Okposo knows the talent his new team possesses, as he spoke to reporters and the Buffalo News at the KeyBank Center.
“I think there’s a lot of room to improve, and the upside of this team is extremely high. I’ve been through a rebuild before early in my career and have seen it come to kind of a fruition you can say. And there is light at the end of the tunnel and for this team, I think it could come a lot quicker than my experiences with the Islanders just because of how talented the group is and how hard we work. So I’m looking forward to that.”
The main attraction in Buffalo is going to be a second-year star, Jack Eichel. And while he’s certainly going to attract the headlines, Okposo might be the missing piece this team needs to compete for an NHL playoff spot.
O’Reilly is a fantastic playmaker, and will only help create scoring chances for Okposo. If Kane can recapture the magic he had in his early career, it will give Okposo an opportunity to play alongside another 70 point player. The potential for high Okposo season is there, let’s just see if it all clicks.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on Twitter @dgentleman9288