Today in Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts, he reported that the Sabres are expected to sign KHL defenseman Viktor Antipin of Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Antipin, a 24 year old left handed defenseman, was reportedly sought after by multiple teams with “Calgary, Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh all poking around”, according to Friedman. In 59 games this year Antipin had 6 goals and 18 assists for 24 points.
Many fans may be wondering about the style of play Antipin will bring. At 5’11” he’s a steady defender and can add a little bit of an offensive boost on the blue line, something the Sabres have lacked sorely all season. Antipin brings some intangibles to the table as well. He was named KHL Gentleman of the year in 2015 and has won the last two KHL Gagarin Cups. He’s an experienced defender even at the age of 24.
Alvins Kalnins, a KHL reporter, said this of Antipin when compared to Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, “Antipin will bring that production, but will take time to adjust, biggest gain by getting him is the experience.” According to Kalnins, the signing also won’t become official until his contract officially ends on April 30th. Although Sabres fans won’t enjoy the luxury of seeing the Sabres in the NHL playoffs this year, we’ll certainly have rooting interests in the KHL playoffs now in Metallurg.
In other Sabres news, Bob McKenzie reported yesterday that the Sabres have interest in St. Lawrence University defenseman, Gavin Bayreuther. A left handed defenseman as well, he led the Skating Saints in points with 29 in 30 games. His decision is expected to come soon with a few teams interested. According to Elliotte Friedman, “It’s believed Dallas was the most aggressive pursuer, with Buffalo and Colorado lurking.” Adding organizational depth at defense never hurts.