Kyle Okposo has been one of the few bright spots for the New York Islanders this season. Okposo is second only to captain John Tavares in team scoring with 32 points in 37 games, and is also 24th in league scoring. Okposo is on pace to beat his career high numbers which were 24 goals and 45 points back in 2011-2012. Okposo is also tied for third in league scoring for American born players. Based on stats alone, it would seem as though Kyle Okposo should be a lock to represent America in Sochi during the Olympics, but what might stop him from playing?
Kyle Okposo has never been to the Olympics, which could plant seeds of doubt in head coach Dan Bylsma and GM David Poille. Okposo is outscoring veterans like Jason Pominville, Brandon Dubinsky, and Matt Cullen, all of whom have represented team USA more than Okposo has. This year, Okposo has been a consistent scorer for the struggling Islanders, but in the past he has been a streaky player prone to slow starts. This could deter Bylsma and Poille from selecting Okposo to play for team USA in Sochi.
Kyle Okposo was one of 24 forwards invited to this summers Olympic training camp, which bodes heavily in his favor for a chance to play in the Olympics. Okposo finally seems to be tapping into his tremendous potential that saw him drafted 7th overall in 2006, ahead of Claude Giroux, Semyon Varlamov, and Milan Lucic. Kyle Okposo doesn’t have the scoring abilities of Claude Giroux, and he isn’t the physical predator that Milan Lucic is, but he has slowly made a name for himself in the NHL and has even earned the title of alternate captain in Long Island. Okposo has worked on his two-way game throughout his career. His -7 rating looks bad at first, but when you consider that he logs 19:57 of ice time per game for the Islanders, who are 28th in goal differential (-36), his -7 rating actually seems somewhat impressive.
I believe Kyle Okposo will make the Olympics this year in Sochi. His point totals are too good to ignore, especially considering how poorly his team is playing. I doubt he’ll be getting 20 minutes of ice time per game, or if he’ll even be a top six forward or on the power play, but Okposo is a power forward who would succeed on the third line with a player like Dustin Brown. Expect to see Okposo wearing red, white, and blue this year in Sochi.