Throughout the next month plus, we’ll be reviewing the season that was and over-analyzing the various players that contributed to it. That’s what the offseason is for, after all. This post is part of a series. Read them all here.
Kyle Okposo — RW — #21
4-20-24 in 48 games
Most often seen: IN BEAST MODE
Contract status: signed through 2015-16, $2M salary in 2012-13 ($2.8M cap hit)
Obligatory YouTube video of: inspiration
Thoughts on 2012-13: When you evaluate Kyle Okposo’s 2013 season, it’s necessary to look at it in two separate parts. It’s almost like a Jekyll and Hyde act with Okposo at this point, after successive seasons of slow starts.
In 2011-12, he started off goal-less in his first 15 games. He would close that season with a grand total of 24, a career high, by scoring nine goals in the final nine games. None of those games mattered in the standings as the Islanders were out of the playoff race.
This year, Okposo showed that his hot finishes don’t have much to do with whether the team is in the playoff chase or not. He showed that he’s a slow starter and finishes strong either way. In the first 20 games of 2013, he had five points. But as the playoff got close Okposo picked it up, with 10 points in the final 13 games and another four playoff points. He didn’t just pick up his game on the scoresheet, he played with a fire that we’ve rarely seen. He was one of the most emotional and energetic players on the team and we’ve got video evidence to prove it.
However, he still finished last season with a total of four goals in the regular season, which is flat out terrible (to be fair, he had three in the playoffs). He did pick up extra helpers, as his point per game ratio only dropped from .57 to .50 year-to-year. Still, having Okposo score 17-22 goals — something he has done three times in his career — is a boon to the Islanders offense when it happens.
The challenge for Okposo this year is to try and come out of the gates strong. There’s nothing wrong with finishing hot at the end of the year — in fact that’s the best time to get hot — but the way Okposo is like a robot programmed to contribute next to nothing in the first two months of the season, well, that desperately needs to change.
Yesterday Okposo received a nomination on the USA’s preliminary Olympic roster. He likely won’t make the team but, if he can somehow summon Second Half Okposo early on, he might just be able to change enough minds to get to Sochi. Hopefully it at the very least serves as motivation. As we know, a motivated Okposo is one hell of a hockey player.
Grade: First Half Okposo gets a flat out ‘F’, while Second Half Okposo gets a B, and Playoff Okposo gets an A.
Add your thoughts and post-season grades in the comments.