Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
 

Olympic Hopeful

"One hundred percent he should be on that Olympic team." - Doug Weight

Friday, 12.27.2013 / 4:59 PM / News
By Cory Wright
X
Share with your Friends


Olympic Hopeful
\"One hundred percent he should be on that Olympic team.\" - Doug Weight
Kyle Okposo sports a Team USA jersey at orientation camp during the summer. (Getty Images)

As well as Kyle Okposo has played over the last year, he seems to save his best hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins. You couldn’t pick a better team to perform against, playing in front of two sets of influential eyes in the Team USA roster selection for the 2014 Sochi Olympics - Penguins general manager (and Team USA associate general manager) Ray Shero and (Penguins and Team USA) head coach Dan Bylsma. Okposo scored crucial goals and made game-changing plays in last year’s playoff series against the Pens, and he's added five points (two goals, three assists) in three games against Pittsburgh this season.

Okposo is making a very strong case to be included on the US Olympic men’s hockey roster, set to be announced January 1 after the Winter Classic. At the Christmas break, the St. Paul, MN, native is off to his best start, with 33 points (12g/21a) in 38 games, an identical total with names such as Phil Kessel and Joe Pavelski, who both are rumored as locks to make the team.

“One hundred percent he should be on that Olympic team,” Islanders assistant coach and former US Olympian Doug Weight said. “Kyle has bloomed in the last 14 months of his career. He is a horse out there and is one of the best forwards we have on a consistent basis. After seeing all the Olympic team previews, I think they would be remised if they didn’t give him a chance.”

Okposo’s points don’t tell the whole story, although as of Dec. 27, he was tied for third amongst American-born players in scoring (behind Patrick Kane and Bobby Ryan). His coaches cited his character, leadership, hustle and physicality as prime reasons why he deserves strong consideration to wear the red, white and blue in Sochi.

“Those are things that can bring a lot to a team and I’m sure that is what they look for,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “Last season in the playoffs and this year he’s been using that big body and he’s skating fast and physical. I really like his discipline, his shooting and he’s been making really good decisions when moving the puck.”

The 25-year-old has found a home on the Islanders top line and is taking full advantage of his situation. He’s a top-20 scorer in the league, wears the A (associate captain) on his jersey and has stepped up against the NHL’s top teams, like Pittsburgh.

“I always knew he was good, but now playing with him I realized how many different things he does,” linemate Thomas Vanek said. “He can shoot the puck with the best and his vision and skating are very good at a high speed.”

Keen observers have taken note of Okposo’s growth this season, as the hard-nosed forward is effectively using his 6’0”, 215 lbs. frame. He stands up for his teammates in scrums and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves, coupling his high-end skill with sandpaper.

“Kyle skates extremely well for a guy with his dominating size. He’s not afraid to go in the corners or in front of the net, and he can also play that finesse game on the outside," Vanek said. "There’s many different ways Kyle can create plays.”

Okposo has international experience, playing on the United States' U-17, U-20 and World Championship clubs, but his play has elevated since his last trip overseas.

The Team USA management does not have an easy decision with the players they have to choose from, but without a doubt, Okposo has proven that his name deserves to be in with the many hopefuls who dream of representing their country.

The Coliseum faithful already knows what Okposo brings to the Islanders on a nightly basis; now it’s time for the rest of the country to find out too.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 PIT 32 22 6 4 102 72 48
2 NYI 33 23 10 0 104 91 46
3 MTL 34 21 11 2 92 83 44
4 TBL 35 20 11 4 113 93 44
5 DET 34 17 8 9 94 84 43
6 TOR 34 19 12 3 114 102 41
7 NYR 31 17 10 4 93 81 38
8 WSH 32 16 10 6 95 85 38
9 BOS 34 17 14 3 86 88 37
10 FLA 31 14 9 8 69 79 36
11 OTT 33 14 13 6 89 92 34
12 PHI 33 13 14 6 92 99 32
13 CBJ 32 14 15 3 79 102 31
14 NJD 35 12 17 6 77 102 30
15 BUF 34 13 18 3 66 109 29
16 CAR 33 9 20 4 68 92 22

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 33 13 15 -5 28
K. Okposo 33 7 21 -3 28
B. Nelson 33 14 13 7 27
R. Strome 33 6 15 12 21
F. Nielsen 33 6 11 0 17
N. Leddy 33 5 10 8 15
J. Boychuk 23 2 12 7 14
N. Kulemin 33 6 7 -2 13
M. Grabovski 30 5 7 3 12
T. Hickey 32 2 9 2 11
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 18 6 0 .919 2.24
C. Johnson 5 4 0 .868 3.59

NewYorkIslanders.com is the official Web site of the New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and NewYorkIslanders.com are trademarks of New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Policy |  AdChoices |  Terms of Use |  Contact  Us |  Employment |  Webmaster |  NHL.com Terms of Use