Buffalo Sabres: No repeat of last season for Kyle Okposo


There was some welcome news for Buffalo Sabres fans in an extremely disappointing season, as Kyle Okposo was back skating on Friday morning.

This has not been an enjoyable season for Kyle Okposo. He has the worst +/- rating of his career (-29), which doubles as the poorest on the Buffalo Sabres‘ roster.

Okposo is also on course for his fewest goals and overall points since the 2012-13 season. And that was the strike-shortened campaign of 48 games.

So of course, when the winger suffered a concussion recently against the Ottawa Senators, it summed up his season. The concussion happened as a result of a collision with Bobby Ryan.

Understandably, thoughts immediately turned to a concussion Okposo sustained last season. More specifically, to the bad reaction which resulted in him spending time in hospital.

In that respect, even the 29-year-old himself prepared for the worst. As reported by John Vogl of The Buffalo News, he said:

"“The impact was really hard. I was just a little dizzy and, ‘All right, just take your time, make sure that you’re OK.’“I was OK, then I was just waiting for symptoms to come on. When they didn’t and I felt pretty good, I kind of went from there.”"

Instead, Okposo was listed as day-to-day, a thankful scenario after last season. And there was further welcome news on Friday, when he returned to the ice and competed in practice.

When the 2006 seventh overall draft pick will actually play again, is another matter entirely. Although coach Phil Housley said he was sharp in practice, it would be extremely surprising if he faced the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon.

More from Buffalo Sabres

In fact, you can argue it wouldn’t be advisable for Okposo to play against the Blackhawks, even if he is passed fit. There is no need to rush him back to action, especially in a season which is already effectively over for the Sabres.

In addition, Buffalo needs to protect their investment, who still has five years remaining on the deal he signed in July 2016. The hope is there are better days (and seasons) ahead for both player and team.

It helps that Okposo himself is taking a cautious/sensible approach to his recovery from his latest concussion. As reported by WGR 550‘s Paul Hamilton, he said:

"“It’s just been protocol, precautionary. Obviously with everything that happened last year, I wasn’t going to push it and I was going to make sure that I was 100 percent and had no ill effects. I’m feeling good and happy to be back.”"

And so are his teammates and fans. If the Sabres are to turn around their fortunes next season, they will need a healthy Okposo.

Next: When will Casey Mittelstadt turn pro?

As the season winds down, Okposo will be the first to admit his time with the Buffalo Sabres hasn’t gone to plan so far. What kind of success are you predicting for him (and the team) next season? Share your thoughts in the comments section.