Spotlight on the Opponent: Kyle Okposo

What: Detroit at NY Islanders
When: Friday, November 29, 4:00pm (TV: FSD)

Kyle Okposo

Kyle Okposo is only 25 years old, but he’s already a grizzled veteran.

Okposo is in his seventh NHL season, all with the NY Islanders. The RW was drafted 7th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, and he made his NHL debut as a 19-year-old in the 2007-08 season.

He is the only NHL player, for sure, born to a Nigerian father and a Caucasian mother.

Okposo isn’t a goal scorer, but he’s a hard-nosed, gritty player who isn’t afraid to stick his nose where it doesn’t always belong. Okposo’s style of toughness isn’t necessarily reflected in his penalty minutes total, but there’s no question that he is well-respected around the league.

Okposo has scored just 78 goals in 344 NHL games, but 24 of those came in the 2011-12 season, easily his career high.

The trouble is, Okposo goes largely unnoticed because he plays for the Islanders, a team that hasn’t really been relevant often since their glory days of the early-1980s.

For example, even in his 24-goal campaign, Okposo was a minus-15.

Okposo fell back to four goals in 48 games in last year’s lockout-shortened season, but his worth to the Islanders is reflected in his $2.8 million/year salary, based on a five-year contract signed in spring 2011. His value to the team is also acknowledged in Okposo being one of the Isles’ alternate captains.

In 25 games this season, Okposo has six goals and 22 points.

Okposo has big ideas, i.e. qualifying for the 2014 Winter Olympics for Team USA.

US coach Dan Bylsma said on November 22 that Okposo is part of a group of about “six or seven” forwards that the coaching and executive staff, led by Predators general manager David Poile, are keeping a close eye on over the next few weeks. The deadline to select the final 25-man roster is Dec. 31.

Okposo wears no. 21 for the Islanders.

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