The New York Islanders have often been the butt of jokes when it comes to contracts in the past. All you have to do is look at the money they’re still paying Alexei Yashin to go away and the 15-year deal they signed goalie Rick DiPietro to a few seasons ago. They’re getting better at this whole thing though thanks to GM Garth Snow and they’re making sure to take care of the guys that will be the cornerstones of the franchise’s future.
A couple weeks ago they signed Calder Trophy finalist Michael Grabner to a five year contract extension and today they’re taking care of winger Kyle Okposo. The Isles announced today that they’ve signed Okposo to a similar five year extension that Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reports to be worth $14 million, or just under $3 million a year under the salary cap.
Okposo was drafted by the Islanders in the first round, seventh overall back in 2006. Since then he’s carved his way out as a power forward with scoring touch. While his season was shortened by an injury during training camp and limited him to just 38 games, Okposo scored five goals and added 15 assists for the Isles as they rallied late in the year to improve their respectability in the standings and show the fans that perhaps the future on Long Island is a bright one. Last season, Okposo scored 19 goals and added 33 assists putting him second on the team with 52 points, just two behind John Tavares.
Okposo is the physical player on a line with fellow youngsters in Tavares and 30-goal scorer Matt Moulson. Those three along with young forwards like Grabner and Josh Bailey as well as Blake Comeau quietly give the Islanders a nice young corps of talent on their top two lines. With the Isles set to grab yet another top five pick at this year’s draft, things are really looking up for the organization. Perhaps the dark days are behind the once proud organization and with a possible deal to get a new arena built, fans on Long Island have every reason to be hopeful for the future.
They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.
The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.
In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.
The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.
Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.
The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).
McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.
It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.
Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.
Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.
“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”
Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: