The New York Islanders are all but likely to lose Kyle Okposo to free agency this July. The question then turns to who do the Isles replace him with?
Should the New York Islanders lose forward Kyle Okposo to free agency it would leave a giant hole in the lineup on the right side. The 28-year-old pending free agent is consistently amongst the top scorers on the team.
Okposo has played his entire professional career with the Islanders. In eight seasons with the Islanders, Okposo has 137 goals and 227 assists for 364 points.
Replacing him becomes a tall ask for GM Garth Snow. Okposo forms the pinnacle in the Islanders depth chart on the right. Beneath Okposo are the likes of Grabovski, Lee, and Cal Clutterbuck.
Neither could step into a first line role alongside captain John Tavares and be as dynamic as Okposo has been. So who can?
We already know that Edmonton is going through some tough years and they are looking to make big changes. Nail Yakupov has already asked to leave and both Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle are rumored to be being shopped around to acquire depth and talent in defense and goaltending.
Eberle averages 0.78 points per game in his 6-year NHL career. Which is a full ten percentage points above Kyle Okposo’s 0.68 average, and is a full eight percentage points above Okposo’s share of goals to points.
Eberle is not only more prolific in terms of goal scoring, but has a higher percentage of goals to points than Okposo. The upgrade is already clear in that regard.
Could a Trade for Eberle Happen
When it comes to trades it takes two to tango. It’s great that the Edmonton Oilers want to ship out Eberle, and that the Islanders want Eberle, but what the Islanders can and will give up is the crux of the matter.
The Oilers need defense, it’s clear as day. The Islanders don’t have too many defenders to give up. But until recently they had one that wanted a move to Western Canada.
By rescinding his trade request Travis Hamonic’s trade value went back to its regular value. He’s a right-handed defenseman, which are already in short supply and is elite when it comes to stopping zone entries.
How it Might not Happen
A straight trade with Eberle and Hamonic trading Orange and blue jerseys could happen, but a major sticking point would be what to do with the contractual difference.
Eberle is on the books for $6 million for the next three years, while Hamonic’s cap hit is only $3.857 million for the next four years. Spending $6 million on Eberle rather than $5 to $5.5 on Okposo makes sense for the offensive return the former gives you over the latter.
But will Edmonton’s ask be more than New York is willing to give simply because he makes more? Adding a pick Edmonton’s way would certainly swing the deal into an un-even territory. And probably make Snow a little gun shy, and rightfully so, to make such a deal.
Keeping it to a one-to-one trade makes it equal and adds pieces that each team is looking for to move the needle forward in their developments.