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Why Kyle Okposo believes Sabres' time is now

After finishing one game behind, could the Sabres be the next Panthers?

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Kyle Okposo signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, and the captain believes his team can make a huge leap next season.

The Sabres finished a single point back of the Florida Panthers this season, a team that's going to the Stanley Cup Final as the second wild-card team in the Eastern Conference.

Okposo believes both he and the Sabres are capable of taking a similar step forward.

"I think that it's pretty evident by what's happened in the playoffs this year that we're not very far from reaching the top of the mountain and it's something that I had set out to do when I had my introductory press conference, and I did not know how much work was gonna have to go into it," Okposo said, per NHL.com

"But I think that we're extremely close. So, definitely some unfinished business and, personally, I would like to be a lot better as well."  

The Panthers, of course, finished first overall in 2021-22 and made a trade for Matthew Tkachuk last summer that changed the culture.

The Sabres have been in building mode for years and do have a plethora of talent. It's a matter of putting it all together at the right time.

"But we cannot run from those expectations anymore," Okposo added. "Like, the time is now, the time is, like I said, our window, I think it's opening and we have to be prepared for that. And everybody's got to come better, starting with me. And I think that that's the expectation we have to set.

Locked on Sabres host Joe DiBiase hopes Okposo can be a contributing member even in the latter stages of his career.

"You'd like to think Okposo will still warrant being in the lineup and provides enough value in his own end as a physical player and potting a couple of goals here and there, and he'll be ok," DiBiase said.

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Okposo, 35, appeared in 75 games for the Sabres this past season, scoring 11 goals and adding 17 assists.

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