Canucks Army Free Agent Profiles: Kyle Okposo

Among the myriad of options available in the 2016 free agency class, Kyle Okposo is among my personal favourites. He’s a mixture of power forward mixed and sniper and can do a great deal of damage when he’s with the right players and in the right frame of mind.

Okposo is coming off a steal of a contract and will be looking for a raise, but he’s within the Canucks’ spending range and checks a lot of boxes for them. He’s even got an extra little tie in to a high level Canucks prospect.

Breakdown:

Okposo HERO

Interpreting the majestic HERO chart, we can see that Okposo can easily fill the role of top six scoring winger. His setup abilities are impressive even compared to that of first liners. His shot generation is considerably better than his shot suppression, though his possession numbers on the whole are still quite strong. He’s shown a consistent ability to improve his linemates’ possession numbers over the past several season.

Career Statistics:

Okposo Career

Okposo is coming off of one of his better years (always nice for a player heading into free agency), in which he scored 22 goals (it was the third time that he hit the 20-goal mark) and 64 points in 79 games. It was an improvement of the previous year, in which he put up 51 points in 60 games, missing 22 games with injuries.

His most impressive year by far was 2013-14, when he scored a career high 27 goals and added 42 helpers to total 69 points in 71 games played. Okposo is a volume shooter, averaging over 2.5 shots per game in his career.

Scouting Report:

Okposo can be termed both a power forward and a sniper. He has the size to bull his way through defenders and charge the net, and he also has no problem firing hard, accurate lasers for goals from a distance. This is a very tantalizing package, though the problem is that Okposo doesn’t always seem to know which game he wants to play. This can lead to inconsistencies in his play, and, occasionally, frustration from coaches.

Okposo has had a tendency to wear down over the course of a season, and while he played in 79 contests last season, he missed a combined 33 games in the two seasons prior. He also missed 44 games in the 2010-11 season following a shoulder injury that required surgery. Due diligence will be required (as it always should be) to make sure that what has previously ailed Okposo is behind him, though his style of play does open him up to getting banged up in the future.

The Fit:

Okposo is a scoring winger and the Canucks need a scoring winger. Square peg, square hole.

Obviously it’s not always that simple, but Okposo seems to check boxes beyond that. He’s fast, he’s got size and he likes to use it, usually. At his best, he plays what Jim Benning might consider a Western Conference style of game.

He’s coming off a five-year deal that paid him $2.8 million per season, so he’s in line for a big raise. Last year he was paid $4.5 million in salary, which is probably closer the the annual average he’ll be expecting on his new contract. The Canucks have plenty of cap space and this is about what they’d expect to pay for one of the top end scoring wingers on the open market this summer.

As an added bonus, Okposo has another pseudo-connection to Vancouver that I’ve mentioned before, in that he’s one of Brock Boeser’s favourite players, and one that Boeser has tried to model his game after. It’s not hard to notice either – those who have watched Boeser’s highlights will see plenty of similarities to the highlights in the video posted above. So who better to mentor Boeser, your top forward prospect, when he arrives in Vancouver in 2017 than the player he is trying to emulate. Like Boeser, Okposo went the college route, playing for the University of Minnesota – a rival school of the University of North Dakota where Boeser is plying his trade. The two of them also share the same home state of Minnesota, with Okposo hailing from St. Paul and Boeser coming from Burnsville.

Conclusion:

I see a fit here in a lot of different ways. The one thing that concerns me is the potential for injury, as Okposo has missed some decent chunks of time over the past several years. That said, he’s still young, having recently turned 28 years old. This is a player that you could comfortably offer four or five years to at a fairly lofty salary and not be too concerned about how he’s going to look at the end of it.

I’d give an Okposo signing my stamp of approval – I say go for it.

  • Steampuck

    How exactly is 22 goals and 64 points in 79 games an improvement over 18 goals and 51 points he put up the previous year in only 60? Other than quantity and staying healthy?

    Health should be a concern here—every other year he seems to lose half a season. But I love the look of a team that ices Okposo, Virtanen, Etem, Boeser on the wings. That’s a lot of weight to throw around…

  • Hockey Warrior

    FINALLY – my astute pick for first line winger next term gets the spotlight here at CA… no-brainer this, OKO ticks all the boxes and is welcome on MY team anyday… of course the usual brainaches will say “he;s too old”, “too much money” and isn’t 6 7″ and 240 lbs L-O-L

    A reminder of my Stanley Cup challenging roster for next season… because the draft don’t matter, the 4 year rebuild ain’t happenin’ under this ownership and in todays NHL = the future is NOW!

    G Andersen 2.2m Markstrom 1.6m (play both unless one excels)

    D Yandle 6m Tanev 3.5m

    Edler 6m Hutton 925 000

    Gudbranson 3.5m Tryamkin 925 000

    reserve 7 and 8th D Biega 700 Pedan 925

    L1 SHOCK N AWE LINE Lucic 7m Stamkos 9m (C) Okposo 4m

    L2 SEDINERY LINE with manageable minutes Sedin 7m Sedin 7m Hansen 3m

    L3 SHUTDOWN LINE physical w net presence McGinn 4.25m Sutter 4.25m Virtanen 925 000

    L4 SPEED LINE with scoring upside Baertschi 900 000 Horvat 833 000 Etem 850 000

    • Pat Quinn Way

      There is NO WAY the Canucks end up with all three of Lucic, Stamkos, and Okposo.

      Even if they put in a full effort to sign all of those guys, there is just no chance that all decide to come to Vancouver. You’re dreaming. I’m just not sure if you know you’re dreaming, or if you need someone to kick you in the nuts to wake you up.

      • Cageyvet

        Amen. Add to that he seemed to miss the Baertschi signing and the doubling of that salary. He remembered to use a lot of capital letters though, lol.

        I’m on board with signing Okposo, not sure he’ll command 6 million but 4.5 isn’t going to get it done.

  • Pat Quinn Way

    Love this guys gritty game and a reasonable UFA price that’s possibly a bit cheaper than Vrbata make it all the more palatable. Have to wonder why the Isles aren’t resigning Kyle though. Do they know something about his injury history we don’t perhaps?…

  • Pat Quinn Way

    I agree that Okposo is absolutely a guy they should go after.

    But I fully expect he is going to command a lot more than $4.5 million on the open market. I’d say closer to $6 million, and even that is probably a low-ball estimate, realistically.

    Over the last three seasons, he is 26th in the league in points. All but one of the players ahead of him have played more games, so he ranks 18th in the league in points per game over that span.

    Guys behind him on the list of ppg include Hall, Datsyuk, Parise, Toews, both Sedins… The list goes on.

    He’s going to bring up this stat at the bargaining table, and use it to get a big payday. Way beyond $4.5 million, and rightly so.

  • Buula

    I would imagine that Okposo and Erikson are the two intended targets, all dependent on term and cap space, especially for Erikson..

    Longer term for Okposo like Jeremy says is not a problem, hopefully we can attract him to want to play in a frenzy market on a team that’s has some questions surrounding it. I agree with TC that he’ll be more than 4.5 …

    Sedin Sedin Erikson
    Okposo Sutter Hansen

    …. Looks like a Competitive top 6

  • krutov

    it’s a nice idea but i can’t see any reason we’d be in the running for okposo. he’s at the top of ufa list on production and age. he’s going to ask for $7 and likely get over $6. as an american with 2 young kids, he’s not likely going to relish a foreign country, canadian tax discount, the extra travel or the anonymity.

    • Cageyvet

      Why is someone trolling me again? Anyways, Kyle Okposo might be a really good free agent signing but I just have to wonder how much of his production comes from having an All Star center like John Taveras.

  • wojohowitz

    DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!

    While Okposo is a bona fide top six forward and has broken the sixty point mark twice in the last three seasons, he comes with two big asterixes.

    First, his stats are likely inflated by who he plays with. Namely, John Tavares.

    If you remember, Matt Moulson potted at least 30 goals a season three different times playing with Tavares. What has happened to Moulson since he stopped playing with the Islanders captain?

    Second concern. Okposo plays a power forward game – without a power forward sized body to go with it. The result. Injuries aplenty.

    Do the Canucks really want to pay $7 million for a 40-50 point player who’s injured for a third of the season?

    I like his game. But, Okposo strikes me as having the highest risk of underperformance of this year’s crop of high end UFAs.

  • Hockey Warrior

    Someone can dig it up but Okposo, I’m pretty sure, played less than 50% of his minutes with JT last year.

    That’s what I recall because I followed him and JT pretty closely this last season for my fantasy hockey pool.