Season Stats: 47 GP | 0 G | 10 A | 10 PTS
Contract Status: RFA
Victor Antipin’s first season in North America was largely a forgettable one. The defenseman played in 47 games overall with the Buffalo Sabres, but it was here and there, with very little consistency, and he was often kept out of the lineup, left to watch the game from the press box.
The Sabres’ handling of Antipin aside, it’s hard to get a feel for exactly what kind of player he is. Everyone was pretty excited when Buffalo first signed him, but I think it’s safe to say that expectations just weren’t quite met. Right when he was maybe getting into his groove, he was back up in the press box.
When he was playing, he was a third- or fourth-pairing guy, spending some of the time alongside Josh Gorges, Justin Falk or Nathan Beaulieu. He also played alongside Casey Nelson, and even spent some time with Marco Scandella, including on the power play.
But it’s not exactly what you hope for a guy in his first season in North America, which understandably brings its own challenges all on its own - without even considering the fact that you’re playing for a last-place team with a lot of struggles.
Antipin could be a really good NHL defenseman, if he’s given the space to grow and the ice time. At this point, we don’t know where he’ll be next season. He said he recovered quickly after the hit from Scott Hartnell, and I certainly hope that is the case. But whether or not he chooses to remain in the NHL or head back to the KHL is a decision that will come as the summer goes on.
You certainly can’t fault him if the Sabres’ Rookie of the Year does decide to go back to the KHL though.
Season Grade: B
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