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Okposo to represent Sabres at 2017 NHL All-Star Game

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

Kyle Okposo is headed to the 2017 NHL All-Star Game as the Buffalo Sabres' representative.

He leads the team in goals with 12 and scoring with 27 points. His 15 assists rank third on the club behind Rasmus Ristolainen (23) and Sam Reinhart (16). It'll mark his first All-Star Game appearance.

"I'm excited. It's something I've always wanted to be a part of," Okposo said. "You throw it on the TV when you're growing up or even now and the All-Star Game is a pretty cool event. I'm thrilled to be participating this year and I'm very honored to be selected."

The 28-year-old forward signed a seven-year deal with the Sabres over the summer. He's served as an alternate captain for a handful of games and his veteran presence has been felt up and down the lineup. 

Video: BUF@EDM: Okposo scores first goal as a Sabre

Coach Dan Bylsma said earlier in the season that Okposo has been a big leader for the team this season and he's had a big impact in a number of ways. 

"Go between leadership of how we need to play and playing the right way, his presence in the offensive zone, his work ethic, and holding onto the puck and being tenacious there and relentless there," Bylsma said. 

"He's a guy who puts it in the back of the next for us. When we've struggled to score goals, he's the guy stepping up to really do it."

Video: BUF@OTT: Okposo nets PPG that redirects off defender

While he's been happy with his season so far, Okposo still sees constant room for improvement.

"Personally, you always want more success. I don't think you can ever be satisfied with how you're playing. You're always looking for ways to get better," he said. "I'm always looking for that. I'd like to have some more points for sure, but the transition's been good. I'm happy with the way it's gone, but I'm always looking to improve and get better."

He watched the All-Star Game last year, the first time it was a three-game, 3-on-3 tournament. He'll lean on some friends in the league about it, including Ryan O'Reilly who was Buffalo's representative at the game last year. What he's most looking forward to, however, is having his family be able to attend, especially his 3-year-old daughter.

"It'll be a cool experience for her and to have her there," he said. "I'm just looking forward to soaking everything in and enjoy the experience."

Video: BUF@CHI: Okposo beats Crawford on backhand for PPG

The 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend will be held Jan. 28-29 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

Here are the complete rosters for each division, comprised of six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders per team:

Atlantic Division 
F Nikita Kucherov (TBL) 
F Brad Marchand (BOS) 
F Auston Matthews (TOR) 
F Frans Nielsen (DET) 
F Kyle Okposo (BUF) 
F Vincent Trocheck (FLA) 
D Victor Hedman (TBL) 
D Erik Karlsson (OTT) 
D Shea Weber (MTL) 
G Carey Price (MTL)* 
G Tuukka Rask (BOS) 

Metropolitan Division 
F Sidney Crosby (PIT)* 
F Taylor Hall (NJD) 
F Evgeni Malkin (PIT) 
F Alex Ovechkin (WSH) 
F Wayne Simmonds (PHI) 
F John Tavares (NYI) 
D Justin Faulk (CAR) 
D Seth Jones (CBJ) 
D Ryan McDonagh (NYR) 
G Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ) 
G Braden Holtby (WSH) 

Central Division
F Patrick Kane (CHI)
F Patrik Laine (WPG)
F Nathan MacKinnon (COL)
F Tyler Seguin (DAL)
F Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)
F Jonathan Toews (CHI)
D Duncan Keith (CHI)
D P.K. Subban (NSH)*
D Ryan Suter (MIN)
G Corey Crawford (CHI)
G Devan Dubnyk (MIN)

Pacific Division
F Jeff Carter (LAK)
F Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)
F Bo Horvat (VAN)
F Ryan Kesler (ANA)
F Connor McDavid (EDM)*
F Joe Pavelski (SJS)
D Brent Burns (SJS)
D Drew Doughty (LAK)
D Cam Fowler (ANA)
G Martin Jones (SJS)
G Mike Smith (ARI)

* Fan-elected captain

The four head coaches for the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend will be Michel Therrien of the Montreal Canadiens (Atlantic), Bruce Boudreau of the Minnesota Wild (Central), John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets (Metropolitan) and Peter DeBoer of the San Jose Sharks (Pacific).

Under the All-Star selection process, the head coach of the team with the highest points percentage (points earned divided by total possible points) in each of the four divisions through games of Tuesday, Jan. 10 - the halfway point of the regular season - will guide the respective All-Star rosters.

 

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