DOB: December 9,1992 (Age, 25)
How acquired: FA, May 25, 2017
Last contract signed: May 25, 2017, 1 yr./$1.775 million
Final year of contract: 2017-18
2017-18 Stats: 47 games played | 0 goals | 10 assists | -9 | 15:17 ATOI
Buffalo Career Stats: 47 games | 0 goals | 10 assists | -9 | 15:17 ATOI
What we wrote preseason: From what we've read and what we've seen on a limited basis [Antipin] has the skills and skating that will fit right in to what new coach Phil Housley wants to accomplish with his defensemen. What Antipin brings to the ice is skating, puck-moving ability, the knack for getting up ice and finding open spots as well as the ability to finish. It's a nice package, one that the Sabres were after while looking to revamp their defense-corps.
Antipin signed with Buffalo largely because of opportunity. He has an out-clause that says he may return to Russia should he not be tabbed for the big club, but unless things go completely south, he'll have his opportunity to at least start on the bottom pairing. The Sabres aren't exactly sure what they have in Antipin, but he has some very appealing on-ice attributes that fit very well with what they want to do.
What we wrote mid-season: The highly sought after Russian defenseman was pursued by Buffalo's former GM and Botterill closed the deal. In Russia, Antipin was noted for his mobility and having a nose for finding soft spots in the offensive zone. He's beginning to find those spots in the NHL after only 23 games. Twitter has a #FreeAntipin hashtag in that there are those in Sabreland who wanted to see more of him. He struggled early for a number of reasons including the language barrier but has really begun to get a feel for the North American game. His defense isn't bad either as he leads all defensemen who've played 20 or more games in plus/minus with a minus-3.
Impressions on his play this year: Despite being on the third pair for most of the season, mostly with Jake McCabe, Antipin didn't seem to get comfortable enough to do some of the things he was noted for, like finding that soft-spot for an offensive opportunity. You can't lay all the blame on him for adjustment struggles as the team around him was pretty much a disaster, but the #FreeAntipin on twitter disregarded that he was a prisoner of himself not being able to fully catch up to the NHL game. Would that have come? We'll never know as he's headed back in the KHL from whence he came. Lord knows getting boarded by Nashville's Scotty Hartnell with four games left in the season didn't help much either (see below.)
Questions moving forward: None with regards to him, but this question should have been answered, Why did Hartnell not receive a hearing from player safety for that hit from behind?
Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via sabres.com and hockey reference.com.
Video via Sportsnet:
Locker cleanout via sabres.com: