Updates on Kyle Okposo, Dustin Byfuglien and Eric Staal.
No new contract for Okposo?
ISLES BEAT: B.D. Gallof doesn’t expect the New York Islanders to re-sign right wing Kyle Okposo, who’s an unrestricted free agent next summer. In an e-mail to me, Gallof explained the situation, claiming Okposo’s agent “is looking at 7 million+ per year, and the market does bear out that amount… and 5 to 7 year deals are happening all over. You can already see that Anders Lee (besides Ryan Strome) is being used on top line and Okposo is paired with Frans Nielsen (another possible cap casualty) on line 2. Watch that preseason carefully because they could stay that way for the year.” Gallof believes Okposo will get a lucrative new contract, just not from the Islanders.
Gallof also noted the difficulty the Islanders face getting a decent return for Okposo via the trade market. “They saw that can they can only get draft picks/prospects when they dangled him at draft. Thus… they would rather retain and achieve this year, despite that he will likely walk for that payday. Unless there is an impending UFA they can swap that the Isles feel can help them in other ways.” He adds, “Nobody is willing to pay a solid NHLer who is an ELC or cap friendly for a guy who is looking at a big payday next summer. Until that changes, he will be on the team.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallof, a freelance writer, has his finger on the pulse of the Islanders, so I take seriously his assessment of the Okposo situation. His comments pretty much jibe with my take regarding Okposo’s trade status. While management prefers not to lose him for nothing next summer to free agency, they won’t just give him away during this season. The Isles’ days of rebuilding are over. They’re now a playoff contender looking to improve their chances at a run for the Stanley Cup. Draft picks and prospects won’t cut it, they want a return that helps them now. And no, they don’t want another club’s castoffs. It takes quality to get quality, not an ageing rental player whose best seasons are well in the past. The earliest I expect Okposo to hit the trade block, if at all, is near the Feb. 29 trade deadline, and that’ll depend upon the Isles’ need at that point.
Updates on Byfuglien and Staal.
TODAY’S SLAPSHOT: Chris Nichols cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claiming he hasn’t heard much about contract talks between the Winnipeg Jets and UFA defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. He speculates the Jets could put more attention on re-signing blueliner Jacob Trouba, who’s slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. Friedman acknowledged the “Byfuglien-to-Boston” speculation, but believes the Bruins seek more cost-effective solutions. Friedman also claims the Carolina Hurricanes and captain Eric Staal “really weren’t that close” on a new contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if the Bruins swing a deal to land Byfuglien. Unless they seek permission to speak with Byfuglien and his agent to reach an agreement on a contract extension, it will be foolish for the Bruins to give up assets for a defenseman who could bolt via free agency next summer. While the Bruins aren’t admitting it, I believe they’re in the midst of a minor rebuild this season. They’re talking a good game about reaching the playoffs this season but that seems more for public consumption. Given their offseason moves and the shaky status of their defense corps, this season’s version of the Bruins looks like a roster in transition instead of a legit playoff contender.