It's hard to believe that if Kyle Okposo and the Buffalo Sabres had won just one more game during the 2022-23 season, they would have made the playoffs over the now-Stanley Cup Final bound Florida Panthers.
The Sabres knocked on the door last season, missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs by just one point, and the young, retooled team will have their captain back for at least one more season after Okposo signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract extension on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old expressed interest in returning to the squad at the conclusion of an extremely encouraging season in Buffalo last month, and that's exactly what happened this week. The veteran was due to become an unrestricted free agent after completing a seven-year, $42 million contract, per Associated Press.
He'll have the opportunity to lead his finally competitive team again in 2023-24 as they try to break a lengthy playoff drought that has now stretched to 12 years.
“I'm extremely proud to be a part of this group and to see how far we've come. We've become a team,” Okposo said after Buffalo was eliminated with two games left, per AP.
“And that's the first time in a long time that I think we can say that about our squad here. It was extremely gratifying in a way, but at the same time extremely disappointing with how it ended.”
The Sabres finished with 42 wins and 91 points this season, the franchise's most since last making the playoffs in 2011. Okposo finished with 11 goals and 28 points in 75 games in a bottom-six role for the team.
He played his first nine seasons with the New York Islanders before signing with Buffalo in free agency in July of 2016.
Although things didn't go how Kyle Okposo expected in Western New York, headlined by the Jack Eichel saga that culminated in the former captain being traded to the Vegas Golden Knights, things are looking up for the Sabres.
The Minnesota native has adopted Buffalo as his personal home, and will wear the ‘C' again as his Sabres look to finally get over the hump and play a postseason game in 2024.