DETROIT, MICH -- With the NHL Draft just a handful of days away, there are teams looking to get value deals before the event commences. One of these teams is the New York Islanders, who have reportedly opened up to taking offers on 27-year-old winger Kyle Okposo. I've been a huge fan of Okposo's ever since he scored 40 points in 40 games with the University of Minnesota in 2006-2007.
Kyle Okposo, who is entering the final season of a five-year, $14-million contract, could be on the trading block, according to two league sources outside the Islanders' organization.
The 27-year-old wing has posted the best back-to-back seasons of his career, but Snow might not be interested in ponying up for a long-term deal for Okposo, who missed 22 games after emergency surgery to repair a detached retina in January.
Both sources indicated that nothing appears to be imminent. But with eight teams already committed to at least $63 million on a projected $71-million salary cap for 2015-16, player moves could come fast and furious during draft weekend, and Okposo's extremely modest $2.8-million cap hit could be enticing.
At first, the thought of dealing our first round pick for Okposo seemed like a really good idea. But after I think about it, he only has one year left on his contract, which can complicate things. You see, Okposo has a very cap-friendly salary. Any team would be ecstatic to take on a scoring winger who gets paid south of $3 million per year. But with his contract ending soon, Okposo is due for a large payday. I don't mind paying him more than $5 million, but there's a great chance that he chooses to hit free agency and get a larger paycheck.
The issue is that I don't think Detroit can afford to really divvy up their first round pick for anything but an impact blue-liner. It's always nice to have a dynamic scoring winger, but we already have that in Gustav Nyquist, and Tomas Tatar (two players who Okposo is marginally better than.)
You could counter with a trade that involves a player like Anthony Mantha, an unproven scoring winger who struggled adapting in the AHL, but even then I'm not sure giving up an affordable player on an ELC makes up for an impending UFA contract like Okposo's.
So now that I've ruled out the comfortability of trading a first round pick for the Islanders' winger, we're left in somewhat of a limbo. Detroit does not have a 2nd round pick to deal, and it seems as if the Isles' brass wants to make a deal before the Draft takes place, or during the first round. How on earth could we make this trade happen, and what would leave me feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside about it?
If the Red Wings could trade their 1st round pick down for a later 1st, and a 2nd round pick, we can find ourselves in a much more likable position to trade for Okposo. Let me throw this out there - 2nd round pick and Darren Helm for Kyle Okposo. We would essentially be acquiring a player who can score better than the other, but not perform as well defensively. The 2nd round pick evens out the value differential, and helps the Red Wings with the UFA/RFA situation in the following offseason. The question is would the Islanders be willing to make that trade? I'm leaning towards no, because I have a feeling they're expecting a 1st round pick for Okposo.
As a fan, I like Kyle a lot and he's come a long way in the last few seasons. He's a big dude and we all kind of assumed he would be this bruising power forward, but that's not really the way he plays. He's very good in the corners and can cycle all day, but he's not a scary, intimidating guy. Once he figured it out - literally as the 2013 playoffs started - he became the Islanders second most consistent scoring option behind you-know-who. Plus, he's really become a part of the community with him, his wife and their baby being featured on NBC's Stadium Series show. He's the best thing to come out of Neil Smith's 40-day tenure as GM!
Personally, I wouldn't be comfortable with trading him away unless the guy (or guys) who replace him will give you that 20-30 goals he'd take with him. It's not that I don't think he's replaceable; everyone is probably "on trading block" to some degree. But that's the thing: who are you replacing him with? If the answer for the Islanders is Michael Dal Colle, who's still in Junior, then I'm worried. If it's (hypothetically speaking) Tomas Tatar, who gives you the same production and is an RFA instead of a UFA, then I'm all for it. But I don't see that happening.