It was a rumor you heard much of last season and it came to fruition Monday as former Sabres defenseman Victor Antipin has returned to play in the KHL.
Antipin has signed a three-year deal with his former team, Magnitogorsk Matallurg, after a difficult season in Buffalo. Antipin, 25, had played 266 games for that club and been a full-timer for five years (2012-17) before signing with the Sabres as a free agent last July.
After one season in the NHL defenseman Viktor Antipin is back home. pic.twitter.com/Drf8yVRWNV
— KHL (@khl_eng) July 2, 2018
Antipin had no goals, 10 assists and a minus-9 rating in 47 games for the Sabres. His season – and his Buffalo career – ended prematurely from the vicious hit from behind he took into the boards in Nashville from Scott Hartnell during the March 30 win over the Predators.
Antipin's 47 games are the third-most in Buffalo history for any skater to go without a goal in his Sabres career. Veteran defenseman Jean-Guy Talbot played 57 games without a goal during the Sabres' 1970-71 inaugural season and blueliner Paul McIntosh played 48 games without scoring from 1974-76.
"I know things didn't go as well as he liked on the ice but off ice, he fit in with our locker room extremely well," GM Jason Botterill said last week. "He was a player that really struggled with the English language but did all the lessons."
The Sabres did not give Antipin a qualifying offer by last Monday's deadline and had heard he was entertaining other NHL offers but the native of Kazakhstan decided to return to Russia.