Kyle Okposo spent eight years in Buffalo. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres trade Kyle Okposo to Panthers

BUFFALO – Captain Kyle Okposo’s career with the Sabres is over.

The Sabres late this morning traded the veteran winger to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defense prospect Calle Sjalin and a seventh-round pick in 2024.

Okposo, 35, said earlier this week he and general manager Kevyn Adams were on the same page as this afternoon’s deadline approached.

The Panthers, who rank first in the Eastern Conference, offer Okposo a chance to pursue the Stanley Cup in what could be his final season.

He hasn’t played in the playoffs since 2016.

“Just over the moon to join a team like Florida,” Okposo told ESPN’s “The Point.”

He said the Panthers, a Cup finalist last season, play “nasty, in your face.”

Okposo joined the Sabres as a free agent in 2016, leaving the New York Islanders to sign a seven-year, $42 million contract. After earning a spot in the NHL All-Star Game that season, concussions nearly derailed his career.

He suffered a frightening one late in 2016-17 that left him hospitalized in intensive care. Others followed, and he often struggled as the Sabres remained at the bottom of the NHL.

But Okposo recovered and emerged as one of the Sabres’ strongest assets and undisputed leader, helping guide them through a rebuild. He earned the captaincy prior to last season and had very much become the face of the team, offering thoughtful words in good times and bad.

He signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract in May to return to Buffalo.

After falling one win shy of the playoffs last season, the Sabres have often struggled this year, compiling a 29-30-5 record. Right now, they trail the Tampa Bay Lightning by nine points for the Eastern Conference’s second wild card spot.

“They’re going to have an extremely bright future,” Okposo said.

Okposo has compiled 12 goals and 22 points in 61 games this season. He played in Thursday’s 4-2 road loss to the Nashville Predators.

The Sabres play their final game against the Panthers this season April 13 in Florida.

What do the Sabres have in Sjalin, who will likely join the Rochester Americans?

Sjalin, 24, has compiled three points, 14 penalty minutes and a minus-3 rating in 22 games this season for the Charlotte Checkers, Florida’s AHL affiliate.

The New York Rangers drafted the 6-foot-1, 179-pound Swede in the fifth round in 2017, 145th overall. He has compiled five goals, 11 points, 36 penalty minutes and a minus-4 rating in 61 career games in the AHL.

He spent three seasons with Leksands IF in the Swedish Hockey League before coming to North America in 2022.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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