The Buffalo Sabres stacked up big time this offseason, adding Kyle Okposo and Dmitry Kulikov. Both additions provide a deeper, and more talented presence for this Sabres team.
Evander Kane – Ryan O’Reilly – Kyle Okposo
Tyler Ennis – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Marcus Foligno – Johan Larsson – Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers – Zemgus Girgensons – Matt Moulson
Dmitry Kulikov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Josh Gorges – Zach Bogosian
Jake McCabe – Cody Franson
Now, their four offensive lines are solid. This Sabres team is young, fast and talented. Okposo just adds to that. He’s a big-bodied power forward who can score. He finished last season with 22 goals, 42 assists and 64 points in 79 games.
Okposo is an elite sniper. He’s played with elite playmakers such as John Tavares, but he’s not always had him by his side. Okposo has had a ton of minutes without him. In fact, close to 2000 5-on-5 minutes. Those minutes were played with guys like Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey, good playmakers in their own ways. Although, they don’t touch Tavares skill wise.
The only big difference here is that without Tavares his shooting percentage is down, and that he had less goals/60 (not getting the good shot attempts). Obviously Tavares is a beast, and will get you in a position to bury it. He gives you the good shot opportunities and opens up space for teammates on the ice.
The two things you’ll notice is that his Assists/60 are up 0.13 without Tavares and that his Points/60 remain almost untouched, with a 0.15 differential. He’s just as good of a player without Tavares. Okposo just makes up for bit with assists instead of goals.
The contract for Okposo is 7 years, $42 million. The exact same contract Edmonton gave Milan Lucic. It carries an AAV of $6 million per season, and when the contract is up Okposo will be pushing 35.
Now, the other big acquisition the Sabres have made is bringing in left-handed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. Sabres GM Tim Murray had expressed how he wanted to add a left handed shot defenseman in the offseason and that he did. He acquired Kulikov from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Mark Pysyk, and a third round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Kulikov finished last season with 1 goal and 16 assists for 17 points in 74 games. Kulikov makes them a deeper team on defence. He only has one year left on his contract at $4.5m per.
For what Kulikov has done so far in his NHL career, I’m not sure he has yet earned a raise from that.
Both of these additions not only make the Sabres a scary team, it makes them a dark horse. People won’t expect them to do much because they’re the ‘Sabres’ but watch out.
Their offence is scary.