Kyle Okposo knows a bit about what John Tavares might be going through, playing out the final year of his contract with the Islanders.
The Sabres’ Okposo and Tavares trained together some over the summer and the topic of how Tavares will face the questions about his contract certainly came up between the two former teammates and close friends.
“Johnny’s obviously a good friend, a friend of mine for life. I’m not going to grill him too much on that,” Okposo said before Saturday’s game. “We’ve just talked, I want to make sure he’s doing OK with it mentally, give him a little bit of advice because it’s a tough thing when you’re going through it. He’s doing OK, focused on winning games and being the best player he can for the Islanders.”
Okposo sought a long-term deal to stay with the Islanders prior to the 2015-16 season but the Isles chose to let Okposo play out the end of his deal and walk away, which he did when he signed a seven-year, $42-million deal with the Sabres on July 1, 2016.
Okposo had a major health scare at the end of last season, ending up in an intensive-care unit following a concussion suffered in practice. It was months before he was even sure he could return to hockey, but he was ready for training camp with no ill effects.
“I was really touched by the support I received from the (Islanders) organization here — all the guys, coaching staff, Garth (Snow),” Okposo said. “It was pretty special to me. I’m just happy it’s behind me and I can move on, play hockey. To have that support from people around the league. The hockey community is a really small community. When something happens in it, people seem to band together and I was really fortunate to receive it.”
Clutterbuck sidelined with hip issue
Doug Weight got Josh Ho-Sang into the lineup on Saturday and didn’t have to worry about benching anyone. Cal Clutterbuck is day-to-day with a hip injury that Weight didn’t believe was serious. Clutterbuck left Friday’s game for a few minutes, returned but looked to be in some pain after the game.
Weight sat Dennis Seidenberg on defense and gave Scott Mayfield a shot, with Ryan Pulock remaining a healthy scratch.
On the Sabres’ side, former Islander Matt Moulson made his season debut after being a scratch in Buffalo’s season-opening 3-2 shootout loss to the Canadiens on Thursday.