Sabres reel in ‘big fish’ Okposo with seven-year, $42 million deal

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At the draft, Sabres GM Tim Murray said he would “chase the big fish” in free agency.

Didn’t take him long to hook one.

Murray made one of the biggest early splashes on the opening day of free agency, signing former Isles winger Kyle Okposo to a seven-year, $42 million deal, per TSN.

That’s a $6M AAV for Okposo, and a really nice pay bump from the $2.8M he was making on his previous contract.

Okposo, 28, had spent his entire nine-year career with the Isles prior to this move. He’s been a pretty consistent goalscorer over the last three season, averaging 22 goals per, and has cracked the 60-point plateau in two of his last three campaigns.

In Buffalo, he’ll be reunited with a familiar face in Matt Moulson, his former Islanders running mate. It remains to be seen who Okposo’s center will be, though there’s no shortage of quality options with Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel slotted in as the club’s top two pivots.

While Okposo wasn’t Buffalo’s No. 1 target — that was Steve Stamkos, who went off the market on Wednesday by re-upping with Tampa — the club was looking to add some more veteran presences to insulate youngsters like Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons.

Murray was also looking to make more of a splash after failing to land a marquee player in consecutive free agent periods. He believes it’s time for the Sabres to make a significant leap forward.

“We want to get going here,” Murray said, per the Buffalo News. “We made up a big chunk last year and everybody says, ‘Well, you had no choice,’ and I kind of agree with that, to be truthful. But it’s time to take another big jump.”