Back in February, a blog entry I wrote challenged Kyle Okposo to insert himself back into the Calder Trophy talk after a disappointing first half of the season. The point wasn't that he had a realistic shot at winning the award.
By performing up to a certain level for the remainder of the season, he could establish benchmarks from which to launch the type of career we're all hoping he has. He could also remind the NHL community that he is a player in the class of those who will ultimately compete for the award.
At the time, I wrote the following:
Okposo should set two goals to pursue for the remainder of the season. The first is to maintain the elevated level of play that saw him post six points in a five-game stretch from the end of January to the beginning of February. By becoming a consistent performer, he can establish himself as a go-to guy on a team that sorely needs one.That was on February 10th. Okposo played in 25 of the Islanders' final 29 games after that date. In those 25 games, he tallied 8 goals and 12 assists. The 20 points in his final 25 games enabled Okposo to finish the season with 39 points in 65 games.
The second goal is strongly correlated with the first one, but goes a step further. Through his play, Okposo should force people—fans and media—to put him in the mix for the Calder Trophy...
...Okposo has ten goals and nine assists in 39 games played this season. Let's set an ambitious but reasonable bar for the rest of the way. How does 12 goals and 12 assists over the final 30 games sound? That would result in a 43-point season in 69 games. That's a good mark for a 20-year-old to launch a career from if you ask me.
Frankly, when I came up with 12-12-24 numbers as a goal, I thought he would have a harder time notching the assists than the goals. Instead, he hit the assist mark right on the nose. Who knows what would have happened if he hadn't missed four of the final six games?
Realistically, Okposo still would have fallen a little short of the goal mark. And, you know, I don't hear anyone talking about him in the same breath as the anticipated Calder finalists.
But color me impressed anyway. (And, as long as we're talking colors, the Red, White, and Blue were apparently impressed, too.)
Along the way, Okposo put up his second four-game goal scoring streak of the season. He also had an eight-game point scoring streak after putting together two separate five-game streaks earlier in the season.
Okposo finished his season by amassing six goals and ten assists in the final 14 games that he played. I'd love to see what the final totals would have been if not for those missed games and the rust they left for the final two contests.
But you know what I'd like to see more? A full season of Okposo scoring at the rate of .77 points per game that he achieved after Christmas. In fact, since that translates to a 63-point season, I think he can do even better.
He might even be able to do better without the help of John Tavares. But that's one hypothesis I don't think we need to test.
Playing without Okposo tonight, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers rallied from a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5-4 in OT.
Sean Bentivoglio had the overtime winner and an assist. Jon "Mario" Sim finished the night with two goals and an assist. Peter Mannino scored the victory in net. Ben Walter had two assists, as did Chris Lee. Playing together, Sim and Walter each finished +4.
The Penguins scored on three of their four power play opportunities.
Justin DiBenedetto made his professional hockey debut for the Sound Tigers. He finished -1 with two shots on goal and a roughing minor.
The Sound Tigers now trail the best-of-seven opening round AHL playoff series two games to one. The series continues Wednesday night back in Bridgeport, with games 5 and 6 (if necessary) back in PA.
(This post was originally published at http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=20770.)