With Brock Nelson signed, a trade gets closer for Kyle Okposo

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The New York (Brooklyn) Islanders resigned Brock Nelson to a 3 year extension worth $7.5 million. The bigger news is that Kyle Okposo has not resigned to a contract extension with the team.

Okposo is entering the final year of a 5 year $14 million deal. At that salary Okposo is maybe the most underpaid player in the NHL. With 110 points in his last two seasons, Okposo is a good 1st liner, and a great 2nd liner on any team. He is a hard hitter, a very good defensive forward, and a leader in the locker room. He is the definition of an all around hockey player. 

If I'm the Islanders I'm doing whatever I can to resign him. They should be building the best team they can around John Tavares, and Okposo is the best winger they have to put with him. They already lost Matt Moulson and Thomas Vanek off their top line, it would not be wise to take away Tavares's other winger. The Islanders still have over $6 million in cap room, so they can afford an extension. They should be able to talk Okposo down from the $7 million he's asked for before. 

Negotiations do not seem to be going well. Alls quiet on news from either side, and Okposo said "“It’s part of the business and I’m not naive to that. There’s a lot of moving parts.". That's not a sign of confidence that he will get something done to stay in New York. At this point a trade is moving away from possible and towards likely. 

Would it be wise for the Buffalo Sabres to trade for Okposo? I say no. The Sabres already traded for Ryan O'Reilly, who in my opinion is just a better Okposo. Investing over $10 million a year on almost the same type of player is not smart. Especially when Zemgus Girgensons is already arguably as good as Okposo, and he also plays the same role. Okposo would be a productive player, but it's not production that's currently needed. 

If the Sabres were to trade for Okposo, what might it cost? The Islanders would likely want Zemgus Girgensons in the deal. Perhaps it would be straight up Girgensons for Okposo. The Islanders may want a young defenseman like a Mark Pysyk along with a pick as well. However it would go, the Islanders have been building up their youth, and would want to add to that.