The Buffalo Sabres have not gotten much from Kyle Okposo this year, and many fans are asking themselves, and him, what gives?
Back two seasons ago in the off season, the Buffalo Sabres made a key move to add some force to their offense when they signed free agent forward of the time Kyle Okposo. Prior to his signing, he had a number of solid years playing with John Tavares and the New York Islanders as he posted 51 points or more in his three seasons before joining Buffalo.
Tim Murray signed him to a big money contract at $6.0M per year for seven years, and with that kind of commitment, Sabres fans were ready to jump out of their seats with the potential offensive power the team was supposed to have.
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Last season, Kyle Okposo managed 65 games played with the Buffalo Sabres and scored 19 goals and 45 total points. A solid effort for missing almost a fourth of the season. Sabres fans were still happy with the investment, and we were all looking forward to his play this season.
Unfortunately, at the end of last season, Okposo suffered from a health issue that had him sit out, but he battled through to this season and he claimed to be completely healthy and 100% coming into this year.
We all believed him. We wanted to believe that he was completely ok. We wanted to believe that he would return to form. The reality is right now that he just isn’t. Whether that be from his illness, or some psychological effect for dealing with it, none of us know, but one thing is for sure; Kyle Okposo is not playing like himself.
As the season progresses and the Buffalo Sabres press on with their season, they are getting offensive contributions from the likes of Jack Eichel (11 points), Jason Pominville (11 points), Evander Kane (11 points), and finally Ryan O’Reilly (7 points). What is highly noticeable about the Sabres players individual stats is that Kyle Okposo is not on the top of the team’s scoring list. He sits with merely 1 point through 9 games this season, and things aren’t looking up for him.
Now, I could sit here and write about all the things that Okposo hasn’t accomplished this year, but I would just be beating a deal horse if I did so. We all know his play has not picked up yet, but what is the solution?
I’ve seen Sabres fans on Facebook saying that he is worthless and should be traded. I’ve seen calls for buyouts, trades, benching, and even AHL demotion from some of these restless (and apparently overly harsh) Buffalo Sabres fans.
In Okposo’s last couple of games for Buffalo he has gotten a few more chances to score. He has been victim of some good defensive coverage, and has had a couple of goal posts rob him of his first goal of the season. It seems like luck just isn’t on his side.
From what I have noticed, Okposo will have ample opportunity to score some goals in the near future. He is a hard working player that doesn’t quit on any play. He has a power forward mentality and a great scoring touch, but who will be the player who will ignite that scoring touch.
It appears that Coach Phil Housley and I had a similar idea.
Last game, Kyle Okposo could be found on the Sabres third line with Sam Reinhart, and this is a young talented playmaker that can spark something in a player like Okposo. Reinhart is creative, and he has the ability to get the puck to great scoring areas, especially while playing the puck around the boards.
It’s plastered all over Okposo’s face when the puck rings off the post, or rolls off his stick on a pass, he is just worn down and defeated.
So here’s my take. If anyone is going to help Kyle Okposo get his game back on track, it is going to be Sam Reinhart. Both players are hark working and have a knack for finding the net. They both are scorers, and they will feed off of one another to make great plays happen. It’s just a matter of communication and chemistry.
I think they can pull it off.
So fret not Buffalo Sabres fans! The scoring forward we know and have grown to appreciate last year will return to us in full form soon enough. Let his work out his issues and let him get back to playing his game. While he tries to do too much, he will just bog himself down.
I have no doubt in my mind that he will be back to scoring goals soon.