Editorials

New York Islanders Had a Good Duo with Okposo

May 6, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) reacts against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of game four of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) reacts against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of game four of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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We recently posted that the New York Islanders have finally given John Tavares his much needed consistent partner in Andrew Ladd. But is he really the best option, or did we let one slip away in free agency?

Kyle Okposo left the New York Islanders on the first day of free-agency. Within hours of the window opening at noon July 1st, it was announced that Kyle Okposo had signed with the Buffalo Sabres.

It was bittersweet for Islanders fans. We hated losing him, but we’re happy to see him get the money he deserves. We just wish it could have been done here with us.

We established that Kyle and former teammate John Tavares weren’t really given a fair shake at forming a fruitful relationship on the ice along the lines of Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin or even Patrick Kane/Artemi Panarin.

Related Story: Has Jamaal Charles Lost a Step?

What If: Kyle Okposo Stays

Which leaves a sort-of “what if”. What if they were given the chance to galvanize a partnership? Both Okposo and Ladd seem like similar types of players so their intangible effects on the ice should be similar.

Granted Ladd has two Stanley Cup rings and Okposo has none. Ladd’s also been a team captain. But let’s consider those as locker room intangibles and that their effects on the ice are negligible. They’re great for team cohesiveness but two rings and their presence could certainly be correlated to certain factors

The only knock for Kyle is perhaps the money he eventually signed for in Buffalo. Kyle has a seven year $6 million cap with the Sabres. Compared to Ladd’s seven year $5.5 million cap hit with the Islanders.

Just look at the deals both players signed and Okposo’s seems friendlier outside of the extra $500 thousand a year.

Ladd’s deal has an extra $6.5 million in salary bonus money over the course of the seven years. Salary bonuses make deals buyout proof because salary bonuses aren’t counted in the 2/3 of the cost of the buyout. A smaller salary bonus amount makes it friendly for management down the line. Advantage Okposo.

Both Okposo and Ladd have no move and modified no-trade clauses tossed into their contracts. Both have no-move clauses in the opening two years. But Okposo’s transitions directly into a modified no-trade clause effective year three, while Ladd has two years of a no-trade clause.

Advantage again for Okposo here. The deal makes Okposo a more movable asset in the long-run. Making the deal more palpable for management.

The Argument of Production and Experience

The comparable between the two deals weighs in Okposo’s favor until you consider the price. But is $3.5 million over seven years what broke this deal down with the New York Islanders? Maybe, but it’s not like Okposo wasn’t worth that extra sum.

Over the last three years, Okposo scored 184 points while Ladd produced 162 over the same period of time. Kyle Okposo is also two years younger than Ladd. Okposo is still in his prime, though the tail end of it, and has a better production record than the player the Isles signed.

That average seven point difference per season and two and a half years between Okposo and Ladd is certainly worth a premium.

Then you consider his eight years of experience playing with the Islanders and his seven years playing alongside John Tavares. Both Okposo and Ladd are similar types of players. They play similar types of hockey and even have similar builds. (Ladd is three inches taller while Okposo is 16 pounds heavier).

When you consider that Okposo had a better history with Tavares, a better point production and a friendly deal for management, it’s hard to see why they let Okposo go. Pay the extra $500 thousand and create that dynamic partnership.

Next: Isles Top 10 Goals of 15-16: no.6

It’s possible that there’s more to this story than is out there. Perhaps management just value Ladd more than Okposo. They may even have that $500 thousand cushion earmarked for the eventual contract extension they have to give Tavares next summer. Regardless, a Tavares-Okposo ticket seems better, even for management than the Tavares-Ladd one we have right now.

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