With the offseason now underway for seven teams in the NHL, players can start working towards the 2020-21 campaign. In Buffalo, Kyle Okposo has undergone surgery on his right knee. The veteran forward is expected to make a full recovery in six weeks.
Okposo, 32, played just 52 games with the Sabres this season after dealing with head injuries once again. He recorded just 19 points during those games, the lowest total of his career (even including those seasons cut short by injury or a lockout).
That’s troubling given Okposo’s contract, which still has three years remaining on it at a $6MM cap hit. Though the actual salary owed will drop in the last two years, the former New York Islander is the third-highest paid forward on the Sabres but is performing more like a bottom-six player.
That disconnect between performance and salary is what led our Zach Leach to list Okposo as a potential compliance buyout candidate in his recent series. Should the league go in that direction, there is no better option on the Sabres roster (unless perhaps you believe Jeff Skinner’s dreadful 2019-20 campaign is a sign of things to come).
If the league does not institute compliance buyouts, it will be interesting to see if the Sabres try and move Okposo to free up some salary. The forward does have a 15-team no-trade clause but with a stagnant salary cap and substantial raises coming for restricted free agents like Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Brandon Montour and Linus Ullmark the Sabres may be looking to shed a hefty cap hit like Okposo.
Obviously a six-week recovery timeline means the 32-year old will be back for 2020-21, given that teams like the Sabres may not play again until January.