Kyle Okposo came over from the New York Islanders and was nearly a point-per-game player. He’s only surpassed 20 goals in a season three times, but he was in the 50-60 point range for a few seasons with linemate John Tavares.
It’s clear that Okposo isn’t the same player that he was. He had two mediocre seasons, and I could deal with those numbers, but in the last two, he has scored 23 goals and 25 assists in 130 games. That’s about 0.37 points per game.
His role has definitely been reduced and he’s not getting opportunities with elite linemates as he did on Long Island.
He also has had some concussion issues and had an extremely scary time where he was hospitalized and couldn’t form a sentence nor recognize his own family members. Read more about that in an article on The Athletic here.
Okposo has slipped down the depth chart and now the Sabres are paying $6M for this season, and each of the next two for a fourth-line forward.
We can live with the fact that the contract was awful and now he’s massively overpaid. But Okposo did actually carve out a decent role last season, although it didn’t translate to more points.
Okposo is 32 years old and has already seen a steep decline in production. One could argue that he brings great veteran leadership and experience, maybe. At what point do we worry about paying $6M for a player who projects for around 15 goals and 35 points?
In six games this season, he has yet to record a point and has just one shot on goal. He looks very slow on the ice and has not looked to be much of a factor. Dating back to last season, Okposo has gone nine straight games without a point and has just one assist in the last 10 games.
Going a bit further, he has zero goals and two assists in his last 10 games. Last season, he had spans of 10 and 17 games without a goal and twice had a stretch of eight games where he didn’t record a point.
In this shortened season, I’d be content with getting 25 points out of him, but that seems like it might be asking a lot.
Buying him out doesn’t help immensely. It wouldn’t be a huge relief financially, but I do think the Sabres are a better team with him not in the lineup, and moving on is already overdue.
I understand it’s not a great look to buyout an assistant captain, but this team needs change and there are other players out there who the Sabres could target with the money they’d save.
A buyout would save the Sabres $2M in cap space overall. To break it down, it’d be $1M freed up in cap space in 2021-22, and $3M in 2022-23. After that, Okposo would still have $1M against the cap for the following two years, keeping him on the books through the 2024-25 season.
Keeping Okposo around for this season and the next two sounds deeply concerning. He’d be 35 by the end of that contract and has already been seeing his production dip. If he was on a cheap contract, that’d be fine. But his $6M cap hit is brutal and Kevyn Adams needs to buy him out.