It was an interesting season for Kyle Okposo, to say the least. Benched for 3 games early on when he had a very slow and somewhat listless start, I began to read some comments in Islander Country that, perhaps, the Isles should think about trading Kyle. He signed a big contract with the team, and early on, it appeared that there was questions about what the team would be getting from the young right winger with his play on the ice.
It’s funny how we often forget that a hockey season is a long season. Maybe, it’s not at all the same as the 162 game campaign of Major League Baseball, but 82 games that stretch over some six months is still a lot of time. If you start off slow, there are still plenty of games to turn it around.
I have never made it a secret that I am a Kyle Okposo fan. I felt that Kyle should have been in the running for wearing the C, and I still believe that he is one of the leaders on the Isles. He is certainly part of the “core” that is being built around, and I have no doubts that we still will see great things from “Okie” in in the future. It was a frustrating season to watch over the first half for an Okposo fan, but I’m sure it was even more so for the guy himself.
Like the secondary scoring for the Islanders overall, Kyle seemed to find his scoring touch later in the season. Maybe, it was being able to spend time playing on the top line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. That certainly seemed to enable Kyle to kick it into gear. Without a doubt, he found some chemistry with JT and Moulson, which, with the magical seasons both guys had, is probably not surprising.
It was just a really nice turn of events when Kyle began to find the back of the net. All of a sudden, he began to score goals in bunches, and this was not limited to playing on the #1 line either. No, after seeming as if he’d have trouble hitting the 15 goal mark for the season, he broke the 20 goal level for the first time in his career. He had always had a great wrist shot, and, to me, it also had a lot to do with the basic fact that he was shooting the puck. Play making is surely fine and well, but Okposo, in my opinion, has always had the potential to pot 25 plus goals.
By season’s end, their pick in the first round for the Isles in 2006 (7th overall) had 24 goals and 21 assists for the season. Only Moulson and Tavares had more goals on the team. Again, considering his start and having to watch 3 games from the press box, it was a pretty impressive turn around.
I would say his -15 rating was a bit of a down side, but, then again, there were a lot of guys on a team that finished 27th overall in the league who had unflattering plus/minus stats. I would have to give him a B for the season as his grade, though I know some would debate this mark. To me, though, Kyle salvaged his season quite impressively over the last half, and he was not the only guy who had a much better second half of the season than his first.
The question will be what will we get from Okposo next season? Last season, he lost almost half the campaign to a shoulder injury, and his stats were quite disappointing. This year, many will say, “where was Kyle in October through January?” So, for the 24 year old, Okie, it’s going to be a matter of coming out of the shoot strong and showing that 24 goals was not an aberration or the like. The Islanders will need scoring, and in my opinion, Kyle Okposo has the potential to be a big part of that area.
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