Kyle Okposo's summer already was going to be fraught with questions. He figured they'd all be about his vision, as he needed emergency surgery on a detached retina in his left eye in January that disrupted a strong season.
As it turned out, he heard other questions this offseason, including about whether he'd even be an Islander when training camp begins this week.
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He's still here, preparing for his eighth season with the Isles, but Okposo briefly was shopped around by general manager Garth Snow before the NHL Draft in June.
Okposo is entering the final year of a five-year, $14-million contract. Brief talks between Snow and Okposo's agent, Pat Brisson, went nowhere. There have been no new talks on a contract and there still is strong belief around the league that Okposo could be had for the right price, even with the season starting next month.
So Okposo has had that to think about. "It's pretty hard not to when you go somewhere and everyone's asking you whether you're going to be traded or not," he said of his offseason spent primarily in his native St. Paul, Minnesota. "It's part of the business and I'm not naive to that. There's a lot of moving parts.
"Am I upset about it? No. There's things that upset you on a daily basis in this business and you just have to go with it. As far as contracts, trade speculation, I don't want that to be a distraction. I just want to go out and play the game."
He's thankful to be able to do that. He had three procedures on his eyes eight months ago: two on the left eye and a preventive one on the right. Okposo played the final 14 regular-season games after missing two months, then all seven games in the first-round playoff series. His timing was definitely off initially, though he had a strong playoff series against the Caps.
"I skated a little bit more than I usually do, because I missed some time last year and because I wanted to make sure I got off to a good start this year," he said. "Having a fast start, coming out ready to go was important. It took me a little time to get into the rhythm when I got back from the surgery, so I wanted to make sure Oct. 9 I'm ready to go."
Okposo was happy to step back on the ice at IceWorks on Monday. Team physicals are scheduled for Thursday and training camp, Okposo's 10th in the organization, begins Friday.
"I saw the doctor a few times this summer and [the eye] is healed," he said. "My retina is great. And that's the main thing with detached retinas -- sometimes they can detach again, usually within an eight-week period after the surgery. But everything looks good there. I'm just happy I can see. I got pretty lucky and I'm excited everything's back to normal."