Free Agency is just a couple of weeks away and the Devils will head to July 1st with plenty of money to spend. This year’s free agency crop is not the best, but there are a handful of players that Ray Shero can go after that would help fulfill some of the team’s needs. One of those players is Kyle Okposo. One of the Islanders top-scorers over the last three seasons, he’s likely to hit the market July 1st, as there have been no indications of any talks between he and the Islanders. He finished this past season with 64 points (22 goals, 42 assists) in seventy-nine games.
Okposo had a strong 2015-16 campaign, scoring at a rate of 1.76 points per 60 minutes at even-strength, which was tied for second best on the Islanders with Brock Nelson. His 1.76 points per 60 was also better than players such as Jonathan Toews and Ryan Getzlaf. Okposo was also a 50.9% possession player and has solid possession numbers throughout his career. He’s spent a lot of time with John Tavares over the last three seasons, but spent this season paired most with Frans Nielsen and Nikolai Kulemin while also spending big minutes with John Tavares and Brock Nelson. Despite being paired with Tavares, Okposo actually produced at slightly better rates with Nielsen than with Tavares. So if there were an argument to be made that Okposo’s success is a byproduct of being paired with Tavares, that isn’t the case. At least for 2015-16.
Okposo’s success has not been restricted to one season. Over the last three seasons, he’s scored at a rate of 2.14 points per 60 minutes, which is good 14th best in the league amongst forwards who played 3000+ minutes. Adam Henrique, who scored at 1.46 points per 60, is the Devil with best rate over the same time span. In each of the last three seasons, Okposo has totaled 69, 51, and 64 points, respectively. He’s also averaged 0.87 points a game. To put that in perspective, Patrik Elias’ 0.63 points per game is the closest a Devil has come to Okposo’s point per game average over the last three seasons and that’s been in limited action.
Not only is Okposo an effective player at even-strength, but he’s also been quite successful on the power play. Over the last three seasons, he has 56 points on the power play (18 goals, 38 assists). Travis Zajac is the Devil that comes closest to his point totals over the last three seasons with 39 points (13 goals, 26 assists). There’s no doubt that he would be adding offense to the Devils in all aspects and would give them a perennial scorer that they have not had in awhile.
If there is one free agent that would be worth spending big money on (aside from Stamkos, obviously) it would be Kyle Okposo. There’s no doubt that he fills an obvious need for the Devils. He’s a young, scoring right winger and aside from Kyle Palmieri, the Devils don’t get a lot from the right side up front. However, given Ray Shero’s acquisition of Marc Savard’s contract last week, I think it’s unlikely they will go out and spend big bucks on the top free agents available this summer.
The Devils have a lot of money to spend, so I don’t think they’ll sit back and not spend at all, but giving a 6-7 year contract worth upwards of $6 million a year to Okposo doesn’t seem like it’ll be in Shero’s plans come July 1st. They might take a shot at some Tier B free agents such as Jiri Hudler and David Perron and could bring back Lee Stempniak, but as far as a big free agent spending spree, it’ll likely have to wait for 2017 or beyond when the team is in more of a position to contend.