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Sabres goaltender Makarov leaves for Russia, wants to prove himself in KHL

Jared Clinton
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Andrey Makarov (Tom Brenner/ Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Sabres goaltender Makarov leaves for Russia, wants to prove himself in KHL

Jared Clinton
By:

Andrey Makarov grew frustrated with his role in the Buffalo Sabres’ organization during the 2015-16 season, and has elected to leave the team and head back to the KHL. Makarov said he felt mistreated in the AHL.

In 2014-15, goaltender Andrey Makarov seemed to prove he could be an asset for the Buffalo Sabres. He played 39 games for the AHL’s Rochester Americans, turned in a 16-18-0 record and while his save percentage numbers may have been lacking, the 6-foot-2 netminder looked like he could be at the very least a future AHL starter.

If that’s to be the case, though, it’s going to start with Makarov proving his worth in the KHL. And when he comes back, it doesn’t sound as though he’s going to be playing with the Sabres. In an interview with Sport-Express.ru, Makarov seemed incredibly frustrated with his lack of playing time with the Americans this past season even though he was, statistically, the strongest goaltender Rochester had.

In 22 games during the 2015-16 campaign, Makarov, 23, posted a 9-9-2 record, one shutout, a 2.83 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. Neither Natahan Lieuwen or Linus Ullmark matched those numbers, with Ullmark having a bloated GAA above 3.00 and both of Makarov’s goaltending counterparts boasting SPs below .910.

On his way out of Buffalo, Makarov made sure to make his displeasure clear, too. Per a rough translation of the interview with Sport-Express, Makarov said he felt he was mistreated by the club, put in a separate locker room and insinuated Sabres GM Tim Murray was trying to get rid of Buffalo’s Russian players.

“Did you notice that the club got rid of all its Russian players? I was the last,” Makarov told Sport-Express’ Alexei Shevchenko.

Makarov said he now has “two choices” when it comes to where he’ll play in 2016-17. One potential landing spot would be Spartak Moscow, who owns Makarov’s rights, though he said the club isn’t stopping him from looking elsewhere.

Heading back to Russia would mark the first time since his pre-junior days that Makarov has played in his home country. Makarov played one season in Russia’s MHL before joining the QMJHL’s Lewiston MAINEiacs in 2010-11.

Following one year in Lewiston, Makarov spent the following two campaigns with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. In 2011-12, Makarov helped Russia to at the World Junior Championship and the following year helped Russia to a bronze. At the 2012-13 Memorial Cup, Makarov was named the top goaltender.

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Sabres goaltender Makarov leaves for Russia, wants to prove himself in KHL