Buffalo’s dwindling postseason chances have taken yet another hit with news that top-six forward Kyle Okposo would miss seven-to-10 days with a rib injury, as Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma told a pool of reporters covering the team this morning. Joe Yerdon of NHL.com adds that Bylsma compared Okposo’s injury to the one teammate Evander Kane suffered earlier this season.
Okposo, in the first season of a seven-year, $42MM contract he inked with the Sabres this past summer, leads Buffalo in scoring with 43 points. His 19 goals rank second on the squad.
Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News joined Yerdon among the reporters this morning in attendance for Bylsma’s statement and adds that in Okposo’s place, Nicolas Deslauriers draws into the lineup. As Harrington notes in his tweet, the Sabres have already utilized two of the four minor league recalls the team is allowed to make after the trade deadline and that for the time being the club has elected not to spend another. Recalls are allowed on an emergency basis when a team either doesn’t have enough healthy skaters to ice a full lineup or need a second netminder for a short stretch. Those recalls do not count against the limit of four.
The loss of Okposo, even if just for a week, dampens Buffalo’s already long odds of making the playoffs. Currently the team is five points out of the final wild card spot in the East and with Jack Eichel healthy and contributing at a high level, the Sabres could still make a late charge but the task is more difficult with Okposo sidelined.