The news only got worse for Kyle Okposo yesterday...he was was expected to return to the lineup Thursday night to face Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, but unfortunately he will be out of the line-up for another 4-6 weeks with a sprained right wrist.
Whenever I hear that one of the core factions of the youth movement are going to be out for a significant time frame, I have to cringe. First Bailey, then Nielsen, and now Okposo. Bailey has shown that he belongs in the NHL, solidifying a roster spot for the rest of the season as Gordon's number two center. Nielsen was coming into his own at the time of his injury, leaving the assumption that he will hopefully pick up where he left off once he gets back into the groove of things after he returns...Okposo is a different story.
Going into the start of the season, many were expecting Kyle to compete for the Calder trophy. I, for one, did not see this happening. There is no doubt that Okposo is a very talented kid and possesses the tools to one day be a top-six power-forward for the Islanders. But that is a long-way coming.
Okposo has struggled so far in the first 18 games that he's played this season, registering only 2 goals and 3 assists for a total of 5 points. He's also -6. Although he has shown a potential pairing with Bailey when the two of them had the opportunity to play together, he hasn't provided the offense that has been expected of him. He has shown flashes of scoring ability, but that all depends on his confidence level. In the games where he's scored it always has seemed that a fire would be lit under him, as suddenly he'd play with more aggression and determination.
But in the 16 games that he's gone without scoring, what has been visible to me is a frustrated player on the ice whose had bad luck finding the back of the net.
It is important to remember that his jump to the NHL was not done in an orthodox fashion. In one year he went from college, to competing for a gold medal, to the AHL, and then the NHL. This year he's had a fresh start, but it's taking some time for him to adjust himself to that full-time role. He's also only twenty years old.
That's why this injury makes me cringe. It's taking Kyle long enough to bring his game to the NHL level and will now take longer since he will be out most likely until mid-January.
But whose at fault for all these injuries? Everyone on our defensive line, except Streit (knock on wood) has been out at least once with an injury this season. Martinek is already on his second stint. I've heard some fault Gordon's overspeed system as the reason why so many players are finding themselves in the press box. I think that's garbage. Gordon's system works and has shown that when executed correctly it's very effective - it doesn't cause injuries. Just look back to last season when the Isles lost over 200+ man-games due to injuries, and that was under Ted Nolan.
It pretty much is nothing but bad luck and the Isles seem to always get struck with the injury bug and this year it has started infecting the players that give reason to call this season a youth movement. We can only hope that Kyle will rebound and finish the season with a strong outing once he returns.