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Now that the World Championships are over, #AntipinWatch begins

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The Russian defenseman is planning on arriving in Buffalo this week, according to one source.

Germany v Russia - 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

For most hockey fans, watching the World Championships offers them some extra chances to see their team’s stars compete for kin and country, while getting to root for their own homeland in the process. It’s a cool, light mixture of patriotism and an All-Star game, and gave us some fun hockey to watch over the past few weeks.

Personally, I’m just glad they’re finally over.

That’s because, as fun as it was to see more Eichel and O’Reilly on the ice, a much more important offseason event for Buffalo Sabres fans can now happen.

After months of rumor and speculation, it appears that Russian defenseman Viktor Antipin will finally, officially sign with the Buffalo Sabres.

Antipin has been linked to the Sabres as far back as March, and it would appear that the dismissal of Tim Murray and the hiring of Jason Botterill as GM hasn’t changed the 24-year old’s intentions of coming to Buffalo.

One interesting insight into why Antipin chose Buffalo also came out last night - apparently his contract will include some sort of clause that, should he not play in the top 6, he could go back to his KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

With the current state of the Sabres blue line, Antipin would have to be a borderline disaster to not be a regular in Buffalo’s defensive rotation. Malamud indicated that Antipin turned down an offer from Pittsburgh in part because he thought (correctly) that it would be much easier to crack the top six in Buffalo.

While Antipin won’t be a be-all, end-all fix to Buffalo’s defensive woes, most who have seen him play have said that he’ll be a solid upgrade to anything outside of Ristolainen and McCabe to the Sabres, and that’s a good place for new GM Jason Botterill to start.