It’s been a dream season for the New York Islanders in their final campaign at the Nassau Coliseum, but an injury to Kyle Okposo could turn it into a nightmare rather quickly.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano announced this afternoon that Okposo, 26, will be sidelined anywhere from six to eight weeks with an upper body injury. No further information has been released, and there’s no indication when the injury occurred. All of this is far from good news for the Metropolitan Division leading Islanders.
Okposo, who has 14 goals and 44 points in 46 games, has been one of the best players on the Isles this season, and a big reason for the team’s success. Though some may point to his 16-game goalless drought spanning from Nov. 6 to Dec. 9 as a lack of production from the power forward, his on-ice production has been remarkable, and he’s only two games removed from a four-goal outburst against the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the Islanders’ Metropolitan rivals.
This season, Okposo is posting some of the best possession numbers of his career and has been key in the Islanders spectacular turnaround as one of the league's top possession teams this season. And with Okposo skating alongside superstar John Tavares, the Isles have formed one of the league’s most fearsome duos. With the St. Paul, Minn. native as his pivot, Tavares is having one of the best seasons of his young career, on pace for 37 goals and 80 points.
Okposo and Tavares are also the Islanders’ two leading forwards in terms of average ice time, which means the Islanders will need one player, or a collection of players, to eat extra minutes. One potential replacement could see sophomore winger Ryan Strome moved into Okposo’s spot, a promotion that would come much sooner than many had expected or than the Islanders would have liked.
What may be cause for added concern is that Okposo missed 44 games in 2011 with a shoulder injury, and if this current upper body injury is in any way related, it could mean this may become a reoccurring issue for Okposo.
The play of the Islanders had some believing 2014-15 could be a storybook ending for a building that housed the New York Islanders dynasty of the 1980s, but being without Okposo until April stands to hurt the Isles’ seeding heading into the playoffs.