Despite plenty of front office shuffling it appears the Buffalo Sabres are still expected to land KHL standout defenseman Viktor Antipin. According to KHL Insider Aivis Kalni?š, the Sabres and Antipin have talked since Tim Murray has been relieved of his duties and the two sides expect to get a deal done after the World Championships [late May].
Viktor Antipin and Buffalo Sabres have talked recently, feeling is that they will indeed get a deal done, most likely after World Champs.
— Aivis Kalni?š (@A_Kalnins) April 25, 2017
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.
This is fantastic news for the Sabres. 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.
With the chaos in Buffalo these last few days the status of Antipin was uncertain, but this latest report reassures what many viewed as a certainty just a few months earlier.
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.