Okposo on joining the Sabres: ‘There’s so much skill, and the future is bright’

AP
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When Kyle Okposo was with the Islanders, he got to play with a couple of pretty good centers in John Tavares and Frans Nielsen.

Now he’s in Buffalo, where he’ll get to play with Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel.

Those are some pretty good centers, too.

In fact, they’re a big reason Okposo chose to sign in Buffalo. He believes the Sabres have the talent to win, and that they’ll start to win soon. Sure, the $42 million they committed to give him over the next seven years was a decent reason too, but the situation still had to be right.

“I’ve been saying it for a week, that Ryan is one of the smartest players, one of the smartest centers in the league, in my opinion,” Okposo said today, per the Olean Times Herald. “Jack’s got nowhere to go but up. His ceiling’s so high. He’s going to be a tremendous player in this league for a long time.”

Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen could be pretty tremendous as well. They’re still only 20 and 21, respectively. If the Sabres can sign Jimmy Vesey, even better.

The challenge now is to actually turn all that young talent into a contender. Suffice to say, expectations have been raised, and it won’t be acceptable to finish at the bottom of the standings anymore. Remember that GM Tim Murray is not an overly patient man. He said two years ago, “I don’t buy into five-year rebuilds.”

At the very least, the Sabres should expect to compete for a spot in the postseason next year. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2011.

“There’s so much skill, and the future is bright,” Okposo said, per the Buffalo News. “I really believe that we can win here, and that’s what sold me. That’s why you play the game. You play the game to win a Stanley Cup, to win a championship, to raise banners. I think this team has the ability to do that.”

Related: Sabres are rebuilding at an ‘accelerated rate’