The Buffalo Sabres announced the signing of defenseman Nikita Novikov to a three-year entry-level contract on Friday.
The Sabres drafted the 6’4″, 207 lb. blueliner in the sixth round of the 2021 NHL Draft (188th overall). The 19-year-old had five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 62 games in his second season with his hometown Dynamo Moscow of the KHL.
“The fact that he was a regular at the KHL level as a defenseman I think just speaks to how they value him and what they think of him, and we do the same way,” Sabres director of player development Adam Mair said last summer. “He’s big, he’s smart with the puck, and he has a very gritty style to his play. When you watch the playoffs now, especially in the Cup Final, you see that – defensemen who are big and mean around the net, they’re hard to get through.”
Novikov was one of six Russian-born players drafted over the last two seasons. The Sabres signed 2021 second-rounder Aleksandr Kisakov last May and 2022 third-rounder Viktor Neuchev earlier this month.
Toronto Parts Way With Dubas, Marlies Coaching Staff
The fallout of the Toronto Maple Leafs second-round loss to the Florida Panthers began on Friday, as the club announced that they would not be bringing back GM Kyle Dubas. Dubas had been with Toronto since 2014 and General Manager for five seasons, but doubts about his return popped up after his end-of-the-year media availability earlier this week when he said the last season had been a strain on his family. Leafs Team President Brendan Shanahan indicated that a search for a new GM would begin immediately and that the club would not rush into a decision. Shanahan did not provide an update on the status of head coach Sheldon Keefe, who is entering the final year of his contract.
Kyle Dubas, who’s contract is ending with the Toronto Maple Leafs, spoke about his future Monday afternoon. This is about as honest as it gets. pic.twitter.com/JSXaGQFTPG
— Sid Seixeiro (@Sid_Seixeiro) May 15, 2023
The exodus did not end with Dubas, as the club also announced that Toronto Marlies head coach Greg Moore and assistants A.J. MacLean and Jon Snowden would not have their contracts renewed. Moore lead the Marlies to an AHL North Division title in his fourth year with the organization, but after eliminating Utica in the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, Toronto was eliminated in a three-game sweep by the Rochester Americans on Wednesday.