Sources with knowledge of the situation have told 93-7 the Fan (and PittsburghHockeyNow.com) that the Pittsburgh Penguins are one of four NHL teams interested in the 36-year-old Russian scoring winger. Zaripov has been consistently among the KHL leading scorers but was recently hit with a doping ban by the KHL and IIHF, making him ineligible for the Olympics.
Zaripov has been cleared for play in the NHL because, according to USA Today, pseudoephedrine is not on the NHL’s prohibited substances list and he was not allowed to testify at his hearing. The league told USA Today it approved Zaripov’s status after he testified last week and the NHL reviewed evidence related to the suspension.
According to sources, the Penguins have made an inquiry and are “internally discussing” a contract offer. Two days ago, Evgeni Malkin publicly endorsed the idea of acquiring Zaripov:
Evgeni Malkin: I’d like to see Danis Zaripov in #Pens. I’d enjoy playing with him on one line
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) August 30, 2017
Zaripov is 6-foot-0 and 194 pounds. He has lit up KHL scoring sheets. Last season, he slumped to 45 points (16g, 29a) in 54 games. He averaged 61 points over his previous three seasons, all with Magnitogorsk Mettallurg, which is also Evgeni Malkin’s former team. This summer, Zaripov signed a free agent deal with his former team Kazan Ak-Bears, but it was voided after the doping suspension.
The Penguins also continue to search for a third line center with either $3.2 or $2.4 million in cap space remaining, pending Derrick Pouliot making the NHL roster. Zaripov could be a tight fit or make one of the Penguins wingers expendable.
The New York Rangers appear to be making the most noise on the Zaripov front. The Rangers were occasionally frustrated with talented, young Russian winger Pavel Buchnevich, last season. A veteran Russian to help Buchnevich could be an added bonus for the Blue Shirts.
Zaripov is reportedly seeking a 1-year deal.