The long-awaited deal is complete. Now Victor Antipin can compete for playing time in Buffalo.
Rumored for months, the Sabres and the Russian defenseman agreed to a one-year, $925,000 contract Thursday. The length and terms of the entry-level deal were limited by the collective bargaining agreement.
“Victor is a well-rounded defenseman who has played in all situations at the pro level,” Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill said. “His mobility and puck-moving skills make him a perfect match for what we’re hoping to build with our defense corps next season.”
Antipin (pronounced "an-TEE-pihn") has been in talks with Buffalo since at least March. Pursued under former GM Tim Murray, Antipin remained interested in the Sabres despite the regime change during the last month.
The 5-foot-11, 179-pounder is expected to compete for a top-four role on the blue line. Antipin joins Jake McCabe, Josh Gorges, Justin Falk and prospect Brendan Guhle as the Sabres' left-handed shots.
The 24-year-old has spent the last five seasons playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. He has won two Gagarin Cup titles and lost in the finals this year. He shined in the playoffs, recording seven goals and 11 points in 18 games.
Antipin had six goals and 24 points in 59 regular-season games this year. He totaled 36 goals and 98 points in 266 regular-season KHL games, adding 17 goals and 37 points in 79 playoff games.
Antipin has represented Russia in three world championships and the world juniors. At this month's world championships, he had four assists and a plus-5 rating in 10 games while helping Russia win a bronze medal.
Other honors include selection to the 2013 KHL All-Star Game and the "Gentleman on Ice" award in 2014-15.