Report: Antipin set to sign with Sabres

Report: Antipin set to sign with Sabres
Posted at 7:26 PM, May 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-21 19:26:31-04

Viktor Antipin watch (#AntipinWatch) may be coming to an end before it ever really even got started. According to KHL insider Aivis Kalnins, Antipin is expected to sign with the Buffalo Sabres. Kalnins adds that Antipin told Russian newspaper Sport Express that he plans to arrive in Buffalo next week.

Antipin, 24, tallied 24 points (8G, 16A) in 59 games played with a plus 10 plus/minus rating with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL this season. Antipin added 11 points (7G, 4A) in 18 playoff games and was named the top defensive player in the KHL Finals (Gagarin Cup) where his team fell to Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk of SKA Saint Petersburg.

Bove's take:

This is fantastic news for the Sabres. If you watched any of the IIHF World Hockey Championships, you saw what Antipin can bring to the table. If not, here's a brief scouting report -- Antipin can move the puck up the ice quickly while providing a spark in the offensive zone. In ten tournament games, Antipin registered four assists. No one knows if Antipin will translate to the NHL but it's a low-risk, high reward kind of move for a team that desperately needs help on the blue line.

After former Sabres GM Tim Murray was fired Antipin's status became uncertain, but as the days went on multiple reports continued to link the defenseman and the Sabres. It's hard not to like the move when you see the success fellow Russian defenseman Nikita Zaitsev had with the Toronto Maple Leafs this past season.

It's fair to assume both Antipin and 2015 second round pick Brendan Guhle will be on the Sabres opening day roster next season. Neither has proven they can be successful at the NHL level just yet, but two new players with upside are exactly what the Sabres woeful defensive unit needs. Antipin doesn't solve the problem, but it's a start.