The captain returns for one more season, his eighth with the Sabres Few Buffalo Sabres fans would have predicted that forward Kyle Okposo would see out his full contract in Western New York when he signed a seven-year deal in 2016, but the St. Paul, Minnesota native not only spent most of the back half of his 16-year NHL career with the Sabres but rose to the role of captaincy on a team that spent a lot of that time tanking and then rebuilding on the fly. Now the 35-year-old has underlined his anchor role for the infusion of young talent on this team by signing a new one-year deal that will see him coming back in what is widely expected to be one of the most highly-anticipated regular season campaigns since Buffalo won the President's Trophy with another similar glut of youngsters nearly two decades ago. In a statement released earlier today, the Sabres announced his re-signing at an affordable $2.5 million, leaving General Manager Kevyn Adams in a strong salary cap position to add a free agent or three should he choose to do so over the offseason. Speaking during his postseason media availability, Adams had indicated that he had wanted to bring Okposo back - "I can't say enough good things about him as a person, what he's done in the locker room, the way he carries the message from Donny (Granato) and the coaching staff through to the team, his selflessness, to be able to mentor and bring along players. "I see it over and over again, day after day, players are down, whatever's going on in their life, they're talking to him.
And I just think it's, we're lucky to have him." Okposo primarily played on the checking line this last season alongside fellow veteran and longest-tenured Sabre Zemgus Girgensons in mentoring youngster Peyton Krebs, and stepped into the top line at times as well when Alex Tuch was out injured as well, finishing the campaign with 11 goals and 17 assists in 75 games played while suffering no relapses related to the concussion issues that have impacted his playing career. Image courtesy of @JFreshHockey Okposo's conversion into a defensive forward in the waning years of his career comes as no surprise, but he will be tasked once again next season with a leadership role on what is expected to be an explosive team that should be making the playoffs and making some noise in the post-season as well.