Kyle Okposo's resurgence over the past two seasons has been covered by Adam Proteau of The Hockey News a couple of times this year. There was this brief post in the spring, after Okposo was passed over for the U.S. Olympic team:
"Playing in the playoffs last spring was an eye opener for me (in terms of) the level you need to consistently play at to have success. I tried to carry that intensity level over to my summer workouts and into this season."
And now this summer in THN's annual yearbook there is a longer, full-page feature in the print magazine. It's a topic that's been covered from a few angles before (including a brief "NHL Revealed" comment by his mother-in-law that said things turned around once he found out his wife was expecting before his 2013 playoff surge).
But the quotes from Okposo and skills coach Darryl Belfry are insightful. Among them, the career malaise he hit a few years ago:
...the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign was a disaster (four goals and 24 points in 48 games).
"I was struggling, wasn't playing well, and my game was lost," Okposo said. "I was stuck between being a skilled guy, power forward, and a grinder. It was really a difficult stretch."
And the skills coach he hired for a fresh perspective:
"He was at a loss," Belfry said. "He'd had some success, but his game had fallen off. He couldn't figure out what was preventing him from doing well and needed an outside view because he'd tried everything internally. He believed he'd been good and could be good again, but he didn't know the path. He wanted a fresh start."
Here's to hoping the perspective carries into next season and beyond, because a key part of the Isles' hopes in 2014-15 is the expectation that he will pick up where he left off the last calendar year.
Oh, by the way: That THN Yearbook also has team-by-team previews ... with Newsday's Rangers beatwriter Steve Zipay providing the Isles write-up.
Also, the magazine picks the Isles to be sixth in the Metro Division. It names captain John Tavares as the only Islander in its Top 50 ranking, placing him 7th behind (in order) Sidney Crosby, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, Anze Kopitar and Ryan Getzlaf.
Top 10 Islanders Prospects, Pronman-style
One more bit of third-party views: Corey Pronman of ESPN Insider (previously of Hockey Prospectus) listed his annual top 100 NHL prospects (sub.). The Islanders on the list appear like so:
9. Dal Colle, 20. Griffin Reinhart, 41, Ville Pokka, 75. Sebastian Collberg, 82. Ryan Pulock, 84. Josh Ho-Sang and 93. Adam Pelech #Isles— Anthony Stabile (@tonystabile) August 12, 2014
For the Twitter impaired, that's the following (with draft years):
- 9. Michael Dal Colle (2014)
- 20. Griffin Reinhart (2012)
- 41. Ville Pokka (2012)
- 75. Sebastian Collberg (Vanek trade, 2012 by Montreal)
- 82. Ryan Pulock (2013) -- a steep drop from the 80s last year. Pronman "shot is as elite as it comes, and he moves the puck very well. His defensive game has worried me though, as he needs to work on his reads and mobility to become an NHL regular."
- 84. Josh Ho-Sang (2014)
- 93. Adam Pelech (2012) -- Pronman praises his hockey IQ and defensive reads, admits the puck skills will never impress
Pronman said his team-by-team top 10 lists will appear next week. That leaves three more prospects for the Isles not named above. (Got any guesses?)