When you think of the New York Islanders, it’s not hard to first recall the big names on the team. John Tavares, Jaroslav Halak, Frans Nielsen. The list goes on. However, there is one star on the team that has been in orange and blue for many years, even during the tough times, and that is Kyle Okposo.
Okposo, 27, is entering his ninth season suiting up for the Isles. He is one of the rare players who did not play Junior Hockey with the OHL or QMJHL, but he went through the NCAA, suiting up for St. Mary’s High School in hometown St. Paul, then playing for University of Minnesota before being drafted seventh overall by the Islanders in the 2006 NHL draft.
He’s only passed the 20-goal mark twice, however, he is really starting to come into his own. He is on pace for 62 points, which would make this his third-straight season with at least 50 points to his name. Not to mention, he currently leads all Islanders players with the most points this season (35). What’s surprising about him is that he’s not loud, he’s not the big-name guy on the roster; he is quiet, and he is humble.
“The last few years he’s really kind of come into his own, his game,” Tavares said of his teammate. “Obviously been producing at a very high rate. I think he’s just got a good understanding of who he is, the type of player he is.”
He then added that it is more than just stats that meets the eye with the talented winger.
“He’s a big leader for our team, someone I really rely on, really lean on,” Tavares continued. “It’s a lot of things that people don’t see, behind closed doors and what happens in the locker room on a daily basis.”
Okposo is set to become a UFA at the end of this season. He has currently has had no discussion regarding an extension, and his mind is also set on the son his wife and him are expecting in the spring. Family is huge for him, and that is what drives him to play.
“You want to play well, and you want to help your team in any way that you can,” Okposo said. “You also want o play well personally for your own issues. Definitely, you want to play well for your family.”
Though he hasn’t discussed any extension, and has been the center of many trade rumors, Okposo does as he always does. He is staying quiet and tranquil.
“There’s really been no dialogue, and that’s OK,” he said. “You try to put that out of your mind. I’m fine with just going out there and playing and trying to do everything I can to help this team.”
Wherever Okposo ends up, one thing is certain: that team is very fortunate.