One big topic of discussion around the Islanders recently has been the status of forward Kyle Okposo. Okposo, going into the last year of his five year contract had been the subject of some trade rumors around the draft as he is expected to command a hefty raise from his current salary. While Garth Snow has been great at retaining home-grown Islanders during his tenure, will Okposo be the exception to that rule? Or will Snow manage to get something done with him?
How Much Is He Worth?
That is the question on everyone’s mind. What should the exact parameters of his next contract be? A year ago at this time for Okposo especially, fans would’ve been like just give him whatever he wants as the team hadn’t jumped into the high spending team that they have become since then. With Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy inked to 7 year contracts, the Islanders need to think a little more before they hand out more big long-term deals. For the last two seasons Okposo has shown that he is an upper echelon forward in this league and deserves to be paid as such. He had put up nearly a point a game this year but was hampered by the detached retina that caused him to almost two months. And in the 13/14 season Okposo really broke out with 69 points. However, is Okposo worth 8 years over 8 per like Voracek just got or 6 years 6.5 like the Rangers gave to Derek Stepan earlier this week? My answer is no way on Voracek and probably not on Stepan. However, in order to keep him here you may need to get at least to Stepan territory.
One thing that has continually come up over the last few months when speaking if the Islanders should commit to Okposo long-term is his injuries, specifically the eye injury that kept Okposo out for almost two months last season. This is definitely a valid concern, however, this is why you have a medical team. If they say he will be good you need to trust them and go with it. If you don’t trust them then maybe you need to get new people in there. Personally, I am not concerned with the eye injury popping up for Okposo again, however, in sports we have seen anything can happen so it of course isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
What I think Will Happen
Ultimately, what I think will happen is the Islanders will come to a long-term agreement in the neighborhood of six years to keep Okposo playing at the Barclays Center and living on Long Island. While I am not sure I would go to Stepan territory to keep him with the other financial commitments the team is going to have to make in the coming years most notably being to captain John Tavares, it wouldn’t shock me if Garth Snow was willing to do that. As the off-season draws to a close and training camp begins, this will definitely be an interesting story to keep an eye on.