Buffalo may have lost out on the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes -- he's staying in Tampa on an eight-year, $68 million deal -- but Okposo is a significant asset in his own right. He generated 369 points (139 goals, 230 assists) over nine seasons with the Isles, and is fresh off a campaign for which he provided a career-high 23 power-play points. Okposo will be expected to resuscitate a Sabres offense that ranked 25th in the NHL in scoring last season. There's only a few brush strokes on the offseason picture at this point, but he didn't command such a lucrative deal on the open market to be slotted anywhere but within the top-six spot in 2016-17
The Red Wings are one of five teams actively pursuing Okposo, a pending unrestricted free agent, Arthur Staple of Newsday reports, citing a league source.
Wings general manager Ken Holland was able to trade Pavel Datsyuk's $7.5 million cap hit to the Coyotes during the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night, thus giving him a golden opportunity to go after an elite forward on the open market come July 1. Of course, Detroit isn't the only team eyeing Okposo -- Winnipeg, St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Minnesota are also said to be in the mix as potential suitors. Remember, Okposo is just 28 years old and in the prime of his NHL career. He's dropped 184 points over the past three seasons, including a career-high 23 power-play tallies in 2015-16. Wherever he lands, Okposo should garner a fat new contract. Islanders general manager Garth Snow looks like a genius for getting him at an average annual value of $2.8 million five years ago.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone as the
Snow said he plans to retain Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin, a core group of veteran forwards, but will "leave no stone unturned" in his quest for a Stanley Cup win. Okposo had an annual cap hit of $2.8 million over the life of a five-year deal, but he's due for a substantial raise as he was a consistent offensive producer and only fell behind superstar John Tavares in points during both the regular season and playoffs.
The 28-year-old winger continues to chug along, having now posted eight points in 10 games this postseason. Despite the near point-per-game total, Friday's goal snapped an eight-game goal drought for Okposo dating back to Game 1 against the Panthers, so it was nice to see him light the lamp. The Islanders have quite the hole to dig out of down 3-1 in the series, so look for Okposo -- in tandem with superstar John Tavares and the rest of their supporting cast -- to leave it all out on the ice when the puck drops in Game 5 on Sunday afternoon in Tampa.