Sabres sign free agent Makarov

The Buffalo Sabres announced Friday the signing of free agent goaltender Andrey Makarov to a three-year, entry-level contract. The 19-year old native of Kazan, Russia previously had been passed by all 30 NHL clubs in both the 2011 and 2012 drafts.

News broke nearly a month ago of Makarov accepting an invite to Buffalo's training camp following his performance at the Canada-Russia Challenge where he was a teammate of Mikhail Griogorenko. Just weeks earlier he was skating with the Florida Panthers at their development camp. Now he's officially in the mix as the Sabres continue to add organizational depth in the crease.

The 6-foot-1, 178-pound Makarov showed his value as a big game goalie at the 2012 World Junior Championship, posting a .880 goals against average and .979 save percentage in three appearances including a spectacular 57-save performance in Russia's 1-0 overtime loss to Sweden in the gold medal game.

Makarov began his North American journey as a member of the Lewiston MAINEiacs, but when that team folded following the 2010-11 season and he went unclaimed in the QMJHL dispersal draft, the backstop ended up with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. His first season in Saskatoon was a memorable one, posting a 29-21-1-1 record with two shutouts en route to being named the Blades' Most Valuable Player.

Makarov, who was slowed last season by a January concussion, will immediately apply developmental pressure on fellow stablemates Connor Knapp, Nathan Lieuwen, and Linus Ullmark. The composed stopper will remain with Saskatoon this season before pushing for a job in the Sabres organization next fall.

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