Kyle Okposo had to be disappointed when he was not named to the US Olympic Team at the conclusion of the Winter Classic in Boston New Year’s afternoon.
There’s still a chance Okposo could be added as an injury replacement, but the odds are the 21-year-old Islander winger will be sitting home with the rest of us next month, rooting on our country.
Okposo’s time will come. If he lives up to his potential, there is little doubt that Okposo will represent his country in the future, assuming the NHL continues to send players to the Olympic Games after Vancouver 2010.
The St. Paul, Minnesota, native has played consistently well this season and leads the Islanders with 21 assists. He has been responsible in his own end, plays point on the power play and is an effective penalty killer.
The one thing Okposo hasn’t done very well this season is score goals. He has only six on the season and recently ended an 18-game goalless slump. His consistency and versatility were not quite enough to make up for his lack of goal scoring production.
Isles’ GM Garth Snow did his best to support Okposo despite his disappointment. “For Kyle, it’s disappointing because I know making the team was one of the goals he set this year,” Snow explained. “But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a big part of our team and we believe he’s going to do a lot of big things for us.”
According to US Olympic Team GM Brian Burke, Okposo’s lack of experience was the reason he didn’t make the cut this time around. It’s also why the US took Rangers center Chris Drury, who has also struggled this season with injuries and offensive ineffectiveness, but has international and Olympic experience and a proven record of leadership on and off the ice.
Experience is one thing Okposo certainly can get in the future. If he continues to play hard and improve his all around game, there is no reason he should be left off the 2014 US Olympic team. For now, he will just have to be patient and take out his frustrations on NHL opponents. That can only help the New York Islanders.