Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – Kyle Okposo turned 35-years-old on Sunday. He’s played 16 years in the National Hockey League, and becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
This season, the Buffalo Sabres captain had 11 goals and 17 assists in 75 games. Last year, Okposo had 21 goals in one less game, but he was also on the power play, where he netted eight goals.
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Okposo walked out of the Sabres' locker room not knowing what he wants to do with his career.
"I’m grateful and happy," Okposo said during his end-of-season press conference on Saturday. "I tried to grind, I tried to do what I can to help the team and to help this organization, help this franchise and help this city. So yes, my deal is done and I’ll take some time to think about the future. But if I were to walk away and be done, I left here better than I found it."
When asked specifically about retirement, Okposo says he hadn’t thought about it, so he’ll see what the future holds.
"My body feels pretty good, but it was an emotional year. I’m just going to take a little bit of time,” Okposo acknowledged.
Players told me Okposo loved just sitting in the room laughing and enjoying each other. He also loved having serious dialog about not only the team, but the world.
"We have a lot of young players, a lot of budding personalities, and I think it’s important to have some veteran leadership around these guys," Okposo said. "But it’s their team. It’s all these guys that took so many steps this year, and they’re the future, and they’re good."
The fans came back to the Sabres this season, especially in the final two months. Season ticket holders started to grow again this year, and Okposo feels the fans are dialed in.
"I have no ill will towards the fans that left over the last couple of years, because it's been hard here," Okposo said. "It has not been easy to be a fan of the Buffalo Sabres for the last 12 years, and it was our job to earn their trust. This year was a really big step in winning them back.”
Sabres defenseman Mattias Samuelsson said he played the end of the season with a broken hand and sprained MCL in his knee.
Devon Levi and Jack Quinn are going to play for Team Canada at the World Championship. Dylan Cozens said no to playing with Canada. JJ Peterka has decided he will play for Team Germany.
Others still deciding on whether they will play this May in Finland and Latvia are Henri Jokiharju (Finland), Owen Power (Canada), Peyton Krebs (Canada) and Victor Olofsson (Sweden).
Sabres head coach Don Granato will speak to the media on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, followed by general manager Kevyn Adams. You’ll be able to hear both men during the "Extra Point Show" on WGR.