The New York Islanders are going to let Kyle Okposo go to the open free agent market this July. It seems that the decision was based on salary cap considerations. What exactly is Okposo’s worth?
In an interview on SiriusXM, New York Islanders GM Garth Snow stated that he and the organization wished Okposo well. A statement that graciously lets Isles fans know that Okposo will be free to leave on July 1st. The decision according to Snow was due to the salary cap.
“We’re just in a situation with the salary cap that you really have to analyze where you’re at today and where you’re going to be five years from now.” Were Snow’s comments when asked about Okposo and his pending free agency.
What Okposo and his camp were asking for clearly did not match what the Islanders thought his value was. Without speaking to Okposo himself it’ll be impossible to know for certain what his contract request was.
But looking around the league it’s possible to draw parallel’s to determine what Okposo could have been asking for.
How Okposo Compares to Others
In determining Okposo’s worth we looked at his points production over the last three years in order to find recent scoring comparables. Six names scored equal to or just less than Kyle Okposo‘s 184 points over the last three years:
Over the measured time, Okposo has scored 184 points in 210 games, giving him a 0.88 point per game rating. Higher than any player in this list. The average cap hit on this list is $5.8 million. (All cap hits are based on 2015-16 salary).
Salary disclosure has been a part of contract negotiations in the NHL since 1989. Agents were finally privy to other player’s contracts and would use that when negotiating contracts for their own clients.
Using the crop of players examined in our table shows that Okposo would be reasonably worth $6m per year in average compensation based on his production.
If both Okposo and the Islanders could not get a deal done it’s because either (1) Okposo was asking for more than his market value or that (2) the Islanders did not want to pay market value for Okposo.
How the Islanders View the Market
Back in August of 2015 Okposo was rumored to be on the Isles trading block as Snow looked to move up the draft board. Newsday’s Arthur Staple figured that according to Okposo’s production he could fetch close to $7m per year for six years.
Which fits the range we’ve already seen with a premium being added because of how close Okopso is to free agency.If Okposo was truly asking for more that his market value then the Islanders did well to shy away from signing.
At 28-year-old Okposo still has a number of good years left in him, but not enough that a five to eight-year deal would have a number of ‘bad’ cap years left on it.
With free agency looming so close, it would have been a fair negotiation tactic for Okposo’s team to ask for a bit more than market value for their client.
Okposo is 24th in league scoring over the last three years. Asking for market value, and maybe a bit more in order to avoid the free agency frenzy, only seems fair. Only 23 other guys in the league have outscored Okposo.
It may have just come down to how the Islanders view the market. The Islanders felt that paying Okposo what he was asking for did not match their long-term plans. Either because they felt what he was asking for was not a fair return or that they could stretch that money through the lineup.
Either case is a little worrying. Okposo is certainly worth between $6-$7m per year based on simply his production. It’s hard to imagine the Islanders getting similar production for less without rolling the dice on youth.
It may work. We saw Ryan Strome post a 50 point year in his first full NHL season. It’s just a huge gamble to make. If the Islanders pull it off they’ll look like geniuses, if they don’t it’ll be the dunce cap.