The Buffalo Sabres are one step closer to signing Viktor Antipin as according to Igor Eronko of Sport-Express, the 24-year old defenseman has indeed terminated his contract with Magnitogorsk and is now a free agent. Antipin had been contracted through next season, but has been rumored for months to be a target of the Sabres. With Dmitry Kulikov, Cody Franson and Taylor Fedun all set to become free agents, the Sabres could use a puck moving defender like Antipin immediately on the back-end.
Antipin is one of the most decorated young players in the KHL, already with two Gagain Cup victories, two World Championship medals and a World Juniors silver under his belt. He’s also been a KHL all-star and won the league’s “Gentleman” award. After 24 points in 59 games this season, Antipin played a huge part in taking Magnitogorsk to the Cup final once again, scoring seven goals in 18 playoff games. Buffalo will likely get him under contract as soon as possible.
- Last week, the two sides were linked by multiple sources with Brayton Wilson of WGR 550 in Buffalo noting that any deal would likely include a clause which would send Antipin back should the Sabres think he’s not ready for the NHL. There will be no AHL time for the young defender, as his goal is to play in the NHL right away. Nikita Tryamkin had a similar clause put into his deal, before heading back to Russia this year.
- Back in early March, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was one of the first to mention Antipin’s name in connection with Buffalo, while also speaking about his teammate Alexei Bereglazov’s interest in the New York Rangers. Bereglazov signed with the Rangers on April 21st, mainly because he did not have the added obstacle of negotiating a termination of a full year on his KHL deal. If Antipin does sign with the Sabres, it will be interesting to see the two develop for cross-state teams here in the NHL.