When the New York Islanders took Kyle Okposo at the 2006 draft, the team knew they were picking up a top six NHL forward. When Okposo finally made the jump to the big leagues in 2008, you could tell he was going to be a good player. Since then, Okposo has shown some flashes of being a top end forward in this league, and at the same time there are stretches where he is invisible on the ice. I’ve been critical of his play at times, sure, but what he showed me near the end of the season last year has made me change my tune. Okposo has elevated his game enough to make me believe he would be the perfect fit to play on the Islanders’ top line.
It has been an interesting search over the past few seasons to see who can play on the top line with Matt Moulson and John Tavares. Okposo has gotten a few chances to play with them and has produced in stretches with that line, but it never really panned out. Now I think that top line right wing spot is his job to lose. Right now, Okposo really is the best right winger on the team. No disrespect to Michael Grabner, who is hands down the fastest player on the team, but Grabner isn’t ready for top line yet. Most Islanders fans,and observers know how good a hockey player Grabner is. The thing is, though, after his great rookie year, Grabner hasn’t found that same level of consistent play he had his rookie year. Once Grabner gets back to that level then he will see more playing time near the top line.
As far as Okposo goes, I know he didn’t score that much last year. He had only four goals all year, but he was able to chip in 20 assists during the regular season. Okposo did manage to score three goals and an assist during the six games the Islanders had in the playoffs last year. See, Okposo has a scoring touch. He scored a career best 24 goals during the 2011-12 season and has scored no less than 18 goals during any full season in his career. He can score goals, and when he gets put with the right linemates he can hit the back of the net with regularity.
Moulson and Tavares, right now, are the best fit for Okposo to be playing with. Those two guys will open up more ice for Okposo to work with, and he will produce. Even if that chemistry doesn’t work out like I hope it will, Okposo will have no problem playing with his regular linemates of Josh Bailey and Frans Neilsen.
Okposo is poised for a real breakout year, and playing with Tavares and Moulson will benefit not only himself but the team too.
What do you think?