The seemingly endless pursuit of inking Viktor Antipin finally came to an end Thursday afternoon as the Sabres signed the highly touted Russian free agent to a one year entry level deal.
The enigmatic d-man has played with Metallurg Magnitogorsk since the 2012-13 season. Antipin amassed 36 goals from 2012 to 2017 and brings great puck moving and vision to the Sabres struggling defense core.
The 24 year old adds even more youth to a young team trying to build a top flight defense. Antipin immediately brings an improvement over the likes of Cody Franson, Tyler Fedun and even Justin Falk. Time will tell if he has a bigger impact than Dmitry Kulikov and Zach Bogosian have had in their time with the Sabres.
Antipin’s signing also brings added depth to a defense stable featuring youngsters Brendan Guhle and Will Borgen. With Guhle possibly making the jump to the NHL next season, an exciting tandem potentially lies ahead with Antipin and Guhle on the same team.
As for the risk side of things there is not much for Sabres fans to worry about. It is only a one year deal which will provide Antipin a window to prove his worth on the polarizing Sabres defense. If he pans out he pans out, and if he doesn’t he doesn’t.
This move can have potential expansion draft implications. With Antipin not being eligible and providing a new body on defense, new general manager Jason Botterill may feel inclined to leave both Kulikov and Bogosian unprotected.
The first big roster move of the offseason is behind us. Let’s see what else is in store.