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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE KYLE OKPOSO SIGNING

by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Well, the Sabres have gone fishing. Buffalo kicked off free agency with a bang on Friday afternoon, adding right wing Kyle Okposo, formerly of the New York Islanders. Okposo spoke with TSN shortly after news of the seven-year deal broke about why he chose the Sabres.

"I think we have a chance to win a Cup and that’s the ultimate goal," he said. "That’s why you play the game."

That's the sort of exciting statement that makes the wait for October seem a little bit longer on a hot summer day. To help pass the time, let's try to answer some of the questions you may have about the newest Sabre.

IS HE A 'BIG FISH?'
In this year's pool of free agents, he is. After Steven Stamkos re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Okposo was widely expected to be the Sabres' top target. He's a 6-foot, 217-pound forward who's averaged 61 points over the past three seasons in New York.

Okposo, 28, has scored 139 goals and 230 assists for 369 points in 529 games over nine NHL seasons. He scored 64 points (22+42), five shy of his career high, in 79 games in 2015-16 while averaging 18:12 of ice time, second only to John Tavares among New York's forwards.

You can read Brian Duff's take on the deal, which includes further statistical analysis, here.

SO WHERE WILL HE PLAY?
There are a bunch of possibilities for Sabres coach Dan Bylsma to exhaust with his forward lines next season now that Okposo is in the mix. The natural fit would seem to be in the top six on the right of Ryan O'Reilly, but there are other possibilities.

Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart were electric as linemates at the end of last season, for example, but perhaps slotting Okposo on Eichel's right wing could allow Reinhart to switch back to his natural position and give the Sabres added depth at center.

Okposo told TSN he'd be glad to play with either Eichel or O'Reilly. He said he found O'Reilly to be one of the hardest players to play against in the League last season, and he also took notice of the talent that Eichel displayed as a rookie. That forward depth is a reason Okposo chose to sign with the Sabres.

For his part, Okposo has already proven he can have success with different centermen. Over the past three seasons, he scored 74 points (29+45) at 5-on-5 in 2,018:33 with Tavares as his center, or 2.20 points per 60 minutes. He scored 30 points (9+21) in 879:43 with Frans Nielsen as his center in that span, or 2.05 points-per-60.

If anything, it will be a fun situation to keep an eye on heading into next season.

ANY SABRES CONNECTIONS?
Okposo's deal with Buffalo reunites him with Matt Moulson, his teammate for parts of five seasons with the Islanders. To provide a sense of how close they are, Okposo and his wife are godparents to Moulson's son, George, while Moulson and his wife are godparents to Okposo's daughter, Elliana.

The pair of Okposo and Moulson enjoyed their fair share of success together on the ice. They shared 1,102:04 of ice time at 5-on-5 from 2009-14 – Okposo's most amount of time alongside any forward in that span other than centers Tavares and Nielsen.

The Islanders' goals-for percentage in those minutes was 54.4 percent, Okposo's highest mark with any winger over that time.

That was two full seasons ago, and the amount of ice time they share in 2016-17 could differ drastically. But the relationship between the two players, both on the ice and off, certainly couldn't have hurt the Sabres' recruiting efforts.

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