Islanders Making Right Call on Kyle Okposo

At the end of last week New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow did an interview on SirusXM and showed his cards regarding pending unrestricted free agent Kyle Okposo. When asked about Okposo, Snow said “we wish him nothing but the best.” This is not a surprise for those who follow the Islanders. But make no mistake, the Islanders are making the right call on Kyle Okposo.

Not a Difference Maker

Okposo and his agent are hoping to land a contract in free agency that is similar to the one Ryan O’Reilly (7 years $52.5 million with Buffalo) and Bobby Ryan (7 years $50.75 million with Ottawa) received. No one can blame Okposo one bit for trying to land in that neighborhood.

But is that a smart move? The answer to that question is a resounding no. That doesn’t mean the thought process is that Okposo is not a really good player. The Minnesota native is a sure-fire top six forward in this league. I understand Okposo has broken the sixty point mark twice in the last three seasons and not many players can say that.

However to be fair let’s remember Okposo has hit the 25 goal mark just once in his career. He has been a minus player every year in his career except the lockout shorten season in 2010-11 when he was a plus three. Also, how much has Okposo benefited stat-wise by playing with John Tavares? Matt Moulson hit at least 30 goals a season three different times playing with Tavares. What has happened to Moulson since he isn’t playing with the Islanders captain anymore?

It’s a Cap World

The reality in the NHL today is that managing the salary cap well is a major component to a team’s success. A majority of teams in the league are in poor shape with their cap. The Islanders are not one of those teams. In fact, Snow has done a great job in his tenure in terms of managing the Islanders salary cap.

Snow has also not been afraid to let a player walk because of the cap. He did this with Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald. Garth is following his same core beliefs as a GM regarding Okposo and his team’s salary cap. For those who think the Islanders should give Okposo this huge contract because someone else will, remember the old adage. Just because someone else is doing it doesn’t make it right.

The bottom line is, as much as Okposo is a productive player and a great teammate, he is not a difference maker. Signing any player to a long term deal at huge dollars who is not a difference maker is salary cap madness.

Okposo will be a solid player for another team, but in all likelihood being more of a 50 point player than one who breaks the 60 point mark. But that doesn’t mean a team should give first line money to a top six forward. Personally I wish Okposo well, but make no mistake about it, the Islanders are making the right call with him.