New Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo met the media today sporting his new No. 21 jersey. If that number sounds familiar it recently belonged to Okposo's friend Drew Stafford, a much-maligned right-winger who played all or parts of nine seasons in the Blue and Gold before becoming a part of the Tyler Myers/Evander Kane blockbuster deal in February, 2015.
When asked by a member of the local media if he talked to Stafford about the number Okposo said he had then quipped, "I told him I'd take it down from the rafters for him."
This is a man in his prime, fully confident in his capabilities with a keen eye towards the future, one that he believes will be a Stanley Cup during his tenure. "There's so much skill [on the Sabres] and their future is bright," he said this morning. "I really believe we can win here and that's what sold me.
"That's why you play the game. To win a Stanley Cup, to win a championship, to raise banners and I think this team has the ability to do that."
Okposo left the NY Islanders and superstar center John Tavares, although he played mostly on Frans Nielsen's wing last season when he scored 64 points (22+42) in 79 regular season games. He'll be coming to a Buffalo team featuring two premier centers in Ryan O'Reilly and budding superstar Jack Eichel. Okposo reiterated this morning what he's been saying all along, "Ryan is one of the smartest centers in the league and Jack's got nowhere to go but up."
On Eichel he elaborated saying, "His ceiling is so high and he's going to be such a tremendous player in this league for a long time."
Okposo's very familiar with what the Sabres have been able to accomplish in one year. He saw first-hand how they struggled early in the season but came on strong in the latter part and were one of the harder teams he had to face. And there's nowhere to go but up. "This team has the pieces. They don't know how good they can be," he said.
He's also said that he's very comfortable playing on the First Niagara Center ice. "I've always felt good in this building. I'm excited to play in it and to call it home and to make it home the next number of years."
The Pegula jet landed in Boston last night and after introducing Kyle Okposo to the media at First Niagara Center this morning, Sabres GM Tim Murray hopped on a plane to Beantown for the Sabres face-to-fact with LW, Jimmy Vesey.
It's the next step in the Vesey saga that began on March 28 when he said he wouldn't sign with the Nashville Predators, the team that made him the 66th pick of the 2012 NHL After completing his senior season at Harvard, Vesey has his eyes set on August 15 when he'll be able to talk with teams as an unrestricted free agent.
Murray and the Sabres swooped in and got Preds GM David Poile off the hook by trading Nashville a 2016 third round pick for Vesey's rights. Now they have exclusive negotiating rights with Vesey until August 15. Vesey's camp has been definitive in their free-agency target date as the young winger has been saying all along that he wants to explore his options.
Those options have always included his hometown Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs where his dad, Jim, works as an amateur scout and where his brother, Nolan, is a prospect. The Sabres are fully in the mix as they hold his rights and also have Jack Eichel, a personal friend of Vesey's who's his center in a summer league going on right now.
Also in the mix is the Chicago Blackhawks as GM Stan Bowman was said to have taken in a game yesterday to watch the 2016 Hobey Baker winner.
But Buffalo is going full-force in an effort to sigh Vesey to his entry-level contract and today's scheduled meeting is the first full-fledged meeting between the sides since the Sabres traded for his rights the week of the NHL Draft. The Pegula jet presumably was carrying owners Terry and Kim Pegula, while Murray would catch up later after Okposo's introductory press conference.
Perthaps Murray should have waited a little longer and had Okposo come along. Since choosing to sign with Buffalo very early on July 1, Okposo has given the city, team and organization nothing but glowing praise and he hasn't left a Q&A session without mentioning his belief that the Sabres have a good shot of winning the Stanley Cup during his seven-year tenure.
It would seem as if nothing will persuade Vesey to sign a contract with Buffalo right now as he's sticking to his original plan of August 15. And with Chicago entering the fray, it would seem as if that scenario is cemented even further. But, the Sabres will make the push regardless.
We now know what Sabres winger Evander Kane will be facing after an incident that occurred at a Chippewa St. bar in downtown Buffalo during draft week.
The Buffalo News, siting two police sources said that "Kane will face non-criminal harassment charges for his actions against just two women." Another woman and one man were also said to have been involved.
The initial police report stated in the first incident at 3:11 a.m. that "While inside Bottoms Up nightclub, suspect threatened complainant and made derogatory comments to her. While outside ... suspect grabbed complainant around the throat and tried pushing her into his car.”
The second incident at 3:15 a.m. states, "that while inside Bottoms Up, suspect grabbed her by the arms and tried forcing her out of the bar.”
According to the News, Kane also put his hands on the bouncer (the man mentioned in the case) when "the bouncer told him to knock it off,” one of the sources said of Kane’s physically harassing the women. “He put his hands on the bouncer who could have crushed him but the guy didn’t want to hurt him. It’s all on tape.”
Yes. As Evander's World Turns.