Kyle Okposo needs right shoulder surgery; expected to miss 2-3 months
Two days after news broke that top defenseman Mark Streit is likely to miss six months with an injured left shoulder, the team is announcing that forward Kyle Okposo is out indefinitely with an injured right shoulder that requires surgery.
According to a source, Okposo suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder and is expected back in December.
Okposo, who recently underwent an evaluation with a shoulder specialist, has not practiced since the team's special teams scrimmage on Thursday.
Just like Streit, it appears the 22-year-old forward will seek a second opinion with shoulder specialist Dr. Anthony Miniaci of the Cleveland Clinic before setting a date for surgery.
"Kyle has a big role on our team and whenever you're in a situation where you lose a player like Kyle, it's going to have an effect on the team," general manager Garth Snow said when reached by telephone. "That being said, this is an opportunity for younger players to step in and play a bigger role, much like with Mark. Now there's an opportunity on the wing for a young player or one of his teamamtes to step up and seize the opportunity that otherwise wouldn't be there."
With both Okposo and Streit slated to miss significant time, the Islanders have witnessed two of their best players fall to injury before the team even plays their first pre-season game.
"Make no mistake about it, they are big losses," Snow said. "On the flip side, if we can get out to a good start and play as a team and accumulate points through the first half of the season, It's going to be a big bonus for our club when Kyle and Mark do come back at some point."
Okposo, who scored 19 goals and collected 33 assists in 80 games last year, finished second on the team in scoring behind rookie John Tavares and led the Islanders forwards in ice time. Okposo was also one of the team's four alternate captains, a group that included Streit, and the since-departed Brendan Witt and Richard Park.
"For us, it doesn't change our mindset," Snow said. "We need to go out and win hockey games. This is a great opportunity for other players to win ice time."
Shortly after the news of Okposo's prognosis, the Islanders announced the signing of veteran defenseman Mike Mottau to a two-year, one-way deal worth $1.6 million. Mottau, who played the past three seasons with the Devils, finished with two goals and 16 assists for New Jersey last year.
"Mike was a player we had interest in back in July," Snow said. "We think very highly of Mike and he's a good puck mover; he has a physical element to his game and is a solid all-around defenseman. For us, he's another quality and high-character person to add to the locker room, who not only has lots of regular season experience but post-season experience as well."