The Buffalo Sabres haven’t officially had a captain since just prior to this season when they stripped the title from the injured Jack Eichel prior to an early-season trade to the Vegas Golden Knights. That year-long absence will come to an end soon, though, as newly-extended general manager Kevyn Adams told reporters today that the team will announce their leadership group for 2022-23, including a team captain, prior to the regular season.
As mentioned by The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski in the linked story above, veteran winger Kyle Okposo is the leading candidate for the role, supported by rumors over the offseason. Okposo had his best offensive year as a Sabre despite largely playing in a fourth-line role, cracking the 20-goal mark for the first time since 2015-16 and had 45 points, his highest total in a Sabres jersey. Forming solid chemistry with Zemgus Girgensons, also expected to be named an alternate captain as the longest-tenured Sabre, Okposo’s taken on a de facto leadership role and is becoming an integral part of the team’s voice.
While Okposo has been an alternate captain in Buffalo for the past five seasons, Alex Tuch also jumps out as an obvious candidate for the job. Acquired in the Eichel trade, the Buffalo native had 38 points in 50 games as a Sabre this past year and cemented himself as a top-six fixture.
Speaking today on the team’s leadership group, head coach Don Granato said the following:
I’ll just point out our three older, I think our three oldest guys, are Girgensons, Okposo and Craig Anderson. And they do a tremendous job. They have that presence. And they are in it, obviously, as competitors, but they really have a deep care for helping some other guys achieve more. They don’t fear that this guy might replace me. Which is very uncommon. Whether that is an unconscious thought, or a subconscious thought. Sometimes it’s hard for the older players to really, really help a guy who might replace them or take some ice time away from them. And those three guys there, they love it.