By Bobby Bauders
Let’s face it, Kyle Okposo is not going to be a New York Islander anymore. This was all but confirmed when in an interview General Manager Garth Snow said they “wish him the best.”
Okposo who is now 28 is expected to draw huge interest on July 1st.
New York is having a difficult situation with the upcoming flat salary cap. Okposo has spent his entire nine year career with the Islanders organization.
In those nine year, Okposo played 529 games earning 139 goals and 369 points. This season he played 79 games, but came short of the 25 goal mark with 22 tallies. This was Okposo’s second most productive season with 64 points. With 11 games played in the playoffs he scored 2 goals and 8 points.
There’s always a chance that Snow could trade Okposo’s negotiating rights, but I don’t see that happening.
Okposo is going to be a highly scrutinized free agent given the interest coming from teams around the league and the salary he will likely command. Some teams he may end up with are the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, and Arizona Coyotes. Okposo is likely to garner a $5.5 – $6.5 million cap hit.
The Minnesota Wild are tired of having their hearts broken in the first round. Okposo could just be the combination of scoring and grit to get them to the second round and beyond. Although, Okposo will want a raise from his current contract with the Isles. Minnesota is projected to have about $7.5 million left in cap space. This could potentially leave Minny with only $1 million to sign other free agents.
Nashville seems like the most likely option to me. The Predators are projected to have $11.5 million in their cap space. That’s impressive for a team that’s routinely competitive. With Okposo signing that would leave about $5 million to sign any other assets, or to keep on the books for a rainy day. Can you imagine the grit and scoring a line with James Neal, Kyle Okposo and Ryan Johansen? Sick. I could see the Preds in the Western Conference Final with a squad they would have.
The Florida Panthers are another front-runner. They an even more impressive cap than Nashville: $20.8 million. That’s insane. Florida could use the extra production and grit to push them even farther through the playoffs. They also have the leadership of Jagr as a negotiation ploy. Not to mention a great young core that Okposo might be interested in signing long term with.
The Coyotes have a new young 27-year-old GM in John Chayka. What does that mean? It means he’s going to look to make a splash. What better way to splash into the NHL pool than to sign one of the most coveted free agents on the market. Convincing Okposo to sign with the Coyotes may be difficult considering the club’s difficulties on and off the ice. But Chayka may find success in selling Arizona’s bright future to Okposo. Not to mention that he would be a fantastic fit with Head Coach Dave Tippett. Arizona’s cap space is a gigantic $37 million, so cap is not even close to being an issue here. Chayka definitely has spending room.