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Islanders not expected to keep Okposo

GM Snow on free agent forward: 'We wish him nothing but the best'

by Cutler Klein @CutlerKlein / Staff Writer

Unrestricted free agent forward Kyle Okposo will not be signed to remain with the New York Islanders, general manager Garth Snow said on SiriusXM on Friday.

"We're just in a situation with the salary cap where you have to analyze where you are today and where you're going to be five years from now," Snow said on the "Stellick and Simmer" show. "There's always tough decisions. We're not the only team that has tough decisions to make and potentially could lose free agents on July 1."

"Kyle is a great person and has been a terrific player for this organization. I wish him nothing but the best."

Okposo is completing a five-year contract he signed in 2011. He has eclipsed 60 points in two of the past three seasons, including 64 points (22 goals, 42 assists) this season.

Going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he was playing right wing on the Islanders first line with John Tavares at center and Frans Nielsen at left wing. That line accounted for 11 of New York's 26 goals in the 2016 playoffs. Nielsen is also a pending unrestricted free agent.

Snow told Newsday in May that he intended on keeping Okposo, Nielsen and forward Matt Martin, also a pending unrestricted free agent.

"That's the challenge for us," Snow said then. "We need to devise a way to keep all three. Whether that can happen, I can't answer that right now. We want to maintain the positive strides we've made in the recent past and take that step to the next level."

Snow also is hoping to keep center Ryan Strome, a restricted free agent, and sounded a little more optimistic regarding the fifth pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

"We think he has a very high level that he can get to," Snow said of Strome. "Whether it's the management, coaches or the player, we're all looking for ways for him to get to where he wants to be, and where we want him to be. He's a gifted player, and someone that's going to be a big part of this group going forward."

The free agency period begins July 1 at noon ET.

Regarding the 2016 NHL Draft, Snow said he is not looking to move up from the No. 19 pick, citing his lack of selections in the second and third rounds because of trades for defenseman Johnny Boychuk and forward Shane Prince.

"In order to maneuver up in the draft, you usually need more draft picks," Snow said. "We're happy with the prospects that we have, so I don't envision trading one of them or anyone else in our lineup to move up. We'll get a good player that will be a few years away from our club."

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