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Buffalo Sabres re-sign Kyle Okposo to 1-year, $2.5 million contract

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The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed captain Kyle Okposo to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, the team announced Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Last season, Okposo scored 11 goals and 28 points in 75 games while averaging 14:40 of ice time per game.
  • Okposo, 35, just completed a seven-year, $42 million contract he signed in the 2016 offseason. In 984 career games, Okposo has tallied 230 goals and 592 points between the Sabres and New York Islanders.
  • The Sabres named Okposo captain before the season, replacing Jack Eichel.
  • The Sabres finished the 2022-23 campaign with a 42-33-7 record. Their 91 points were one fewer than the Panthers, who took the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

What Okposo has meant to Sabres

When the season ended, Okposo said he was going to take time to consider his future. He had just completed a seven-year contract that paid him $6 million per season. He’s had multiple concussions, one that sent him to the neurological intensive care unit at Buffalo General. With four young children at home, Okposo, who just turned 35, wanted to give himself time to decompress from the season before deciding whether he would keep playing.

He also played through multiple attempted rebuilds with the Sabres. But last season was a rewarding one for Okposo, who was named a captain for the first time in his career. General manager Kevyn Adams and coach Don Granato leaned on him while making decisions about the team. Players on the roster were unanimous in their praise of the way he lead the youngest team in the NHL.

“Everyone talks about how good of a person he is; it’s hard to overstate,” Sabres winger Jeff Skinner said. “I think it’s hard to overstate how much he means to the group. He’s obviously got a lot of experience and he draws on that. He’s just a quality person and genuine.”

While the Sabres have other young leaders emerging on their roster, having Okposo back will be crucial as Buffalo tries to push for the postseason next year. — Fairburn

What Okposo brings on the ice

Last season, Okposo wasn’t the same scoring threat he had been at times earlier in his career. But he was a fixture on Buffalo’s best defensive line which also included Zemgus Girgensons. The Sabres had 52 percent of the shot attempts and 50.7 percent of the expected goals when Okposo was on the ice at five-on-five. Of lines that played at least 200 minutes together this season, Okposo, Girgensons and Peyton Krebs allowed the fifth-fewest expected goals per 60 minutes of ice time in the NHL. His steady defensive game, along with some timely offense, made him a wise re-signing. — Fairburn

What other decisions do Sabres have to make?

The other pending unrestricted free agent to watch is Girgensons. His situation is a bit different than Okposo’s. Okposo made it clear that he would either come back to Buffalo or retire. Girgensons is 28 years old and could attract interest on the open market, if he chooses to go that route. If the Sabres can get him back at a reasonable number and term, keeping him and Okposo together would be nice continuity for that fourth line. The Sabres also have Tyson Jost as a restricted free agent. He was another useful piece of their bottom six group at forward.

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

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