Buffalo Sabres: What is wrong with Kyle Okposo?

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 17: Kyle Okposo
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 17: Kyle Okposo /

By his own standards Kyle Okposo is off to a poor start this season for the Buffalo Sabres, but will he return to the productivity we’re all used to?

Given Kyle Okposo‘s health issues earlier this year, no one knew what to expect from him, heading into the 2017-18 campaign. In fact, most Buffalo Sabres fans probably gave him the benefit of the doubt after everything he’d been through, with the main priority being his quality of life off the ice.

In that respect, it was a bonus that Okposo was even back on the team, as the Sabres embarked on a new season. And yet, entering Wednesday’s games, his below average start to the campaign has still been noticeable.

In particular, the 29-year-old has just one assist in eight appearances and — for what it’s worth — a minus-six rating, which is tied for worst on the team. Pro-rated over 82 games, he is well on course for the least productive season of his NHL career.

So what’s up with Okposo? Understandably, people will wonder if he has still not fully recovered from the incident last March, which landed him in the neurosurgical intensive care unit in Buffalo General Hospital.

This concern was only heightened, when the Saint Paul, Minnesota native recently missed time through illness. However, as reported by Jourdon LaBarber, Sabres coach Phil Housley was quick to stress Okposo had a bug, which was unrelated to last season.

In any event, you have to believe the Buffalo Sabres medical staff would not take any chances with the winger, if he was still not fully recovered. Regardless, you then have to ask how long his current form will continue and wonder if he will be able to return to his previous levels of productivity?

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Things got so bad, Okposo was benched during last Friday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks, seeing virtually no action during the final 32:23 minutes of the game. However, to suggest he was in the doghouse was unfair, especially as the team played poor in general against the Canucks.

In any event, it at least appeared to provide a wake-up call for Okposo. Coincidentally or not, he had arguably his best game of the season the following night, in the dramatic comeback win against the Boston Bruins.

For his part, the 2006 seventh overall draft pick is still not happy with his form. As reported by WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton, he said:

"“I’ve played better. I’m still looking for more, I’m looking for production, it’s something I’ve prided myself on and it’s not there right now.”"

One thing which might help Okposo revert to his previous form, is Housley’s decision to shuffle the lines. Certainly, playing alongside Jack Eichel and Evander Kane can’t hurt.

In fairness, the former New York Islander has high expectations for himself, so you know he will do everything possible to get back to form. While acknowledging his play has improved slightly, he knows he still has a long way to go.

As for the team in general, it’s worth noting they’ve taken seven points out of a possible 10, after their terrible start to the season. The train seems to be getting back on track and you know Okposo has no desire to be left behind at the station.

Next: Why the time is right to deal Evander Kane

Are you concerned about Okposo’s start to the 2017-18 campaign, or are you confident he will soon return to his form from previous seasons? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.