4. Is Kyle Okposo ready to take the next step to becoming a consistent offensive force?
The 25 year old from Minnesota has teased Islander fans with his unique skill set since being drafted 7th overall in 2006.
Blessed with size (6’0″, 210), speed, a hard wrist shot and deceptive moves as well as a tireless work ethic, Okposo has all the ingredients to become a premier power forward in the National Hockey League. The problem seems to be putting all those talents together consistently throughout an entire 82 game season.
Since making his debut in 2007, he tallied 18 and 19 goals the following two full seasons. An injury marred 2010-11 saw him only net 5 markers in 38 games followed by his career season as an Islander the following year with 24 goals and 21 assists. What all Islander fans thought was the beginning of Kyle fulfilling his enormous potential heading into the shortened 48 game schedule of 2012-13 were disappointed with 4 goals in 48 games.
Come the playoff series against Pittsburgh, Okposo continued his Jekyll and Hyde act by putting forth a tremendous effort, fighting Matt Niskanen to lift the team and scoring 3 goals in the 6 game series. He was in absolute beast mode and seemed to finally figure out what it takes on a game by game basis to succeed at this level. The fact that it was on the biggest stage the league can offer only gave fans that much more hope that the real Okposo has finally showed up.
He will almost certainly start the new season on a chemistry laden second line with Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey but cannot be ruled out of consideration for the coveted wing spot on John Tavares’ line either. If Okposo gets back to the 25 goal level that his talent should afford him, the secondary scoring will be very hard for opposing teams to match up against and make the Islanders offense one of the best in the entire league.