It has been a tough season for the Sabres, particularly veteran winger Kyle Okposo. His season has now come to a premature end with Buffalo announcing that Okposo has undergone surgery to repair a broken bone in his cheek and will miss the remainder of the season as a result. The injury was suffered on Thursday after a dump-in attempt hit him in the cheek.
The 33-year-old has steadily seen his offensive output drop since joining Buffalo as an unrestricted free agent back in 2016, a trend that continued this season. Okposo posted just two goals and 11 assists in 35 games, career lows in any of his 13 full-time NHL seasons, which is hardly the type of return the Sabres were expecting for someone carrying a $6M AAV. That deal still has two years remaining on it and a front-loaded, signing bonus-heavy structure that makes buying it out cap-prohibitive.
Even so, it’s an avenue that GM Kevyn Adams may be wise to consider this summer. Per CapFriendly, it would yield a $5M cap charge in 2021-22, which frees up only $1M on the cap, but it’s possible that those savings could still allow them to bring in a better player for next season. From there, the penalty wouldn’t be as steep with a $3M charge in 2022-23 before dropping to $1M for 2023-24 and 2024-25.
Meanwhile, Steven Fogarty was recalled from the taxi squad to take Okposo’s spot on the active roster. The 27-year-old is in his first season with Buffalo and has a goal and two assists in eight games so far. In a corresponding move, goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was promoted to the taxi squad.