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Islanders' Okposo admits to thinking about contract status as free agency looms

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Okposo tells it like it is.

The New York Islanders forward is playing out the final year of his contract, earning $4.5 million in salary but accounting for only $2.8 million against the salary cap, and he's thinking about his future, cloudy as it may be with unrestricted free agency on the horizon.

"Anybody that tells you that they don't think about it at all is lying," Okposo said, according to ESPN's Scott Burnside. "To put it bluntly. So, yeah, it's definitely in my mind, and you want to play well, and you want to help your team in any way that you can. You also want to play well personally for your own issues, for your contract's sake. Definitely, you want to play well for your family."

Okposo has a daughter who will soon turn two, and he and his wife will welcome a boy in the spring, Burnside writes. But Okposo - who leads the Islanders in scoring with 31 points in 38 games - is only thinking about hockey, even though there are no talks between player and club about a potential contract extension.

"I'm OK though with where the things at. There's really been no dialogue, and that's OK. I'm fine with that," Okposo said. "I'm fine with just going out there and playing and trying to do everything I can to help this team. I think we have enough here to be there in June and to be the best team in the league. That's definitely my main focus. You try to put that stuff out of your mind as much as you can."

Okposo and John Tavares - the Islanders captain and face of the franchise - are close friends and linemates, and Tavares admitted to relying heavily on Okposo not only on the ice but in the dressing room, as well.

Okposo's only known the Islanders, drafted seventh overall in 2006, and has been with the team through the many downs, and now the ups. But he's one of the game's better power forwards, and will be a hot commodity on the free-agent market - should he get there.

The Islanders have some money issues, as well, with underachieving Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin earning far too much money ($9.188 million against the cap) for their combined 31 points.

Okposo, in other words, has a lot to play for. A new contract and a spot on the 2016 U.S. World Cup squad. He said he "would love to ... do anything to play on that team."

He may also be playing for a Stanley Cup come June.

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