Following up on PittsburghHockeyNow.com’s exclusive scoop last Friday, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, the Pittsburgh Penguins have not yet extended an offer to Russian winger Danis Zaripov. Sources didn’t indicate an offer was immediately imminent, either. In July, Zaripov, 36, was suspended for two years by the KHL and the IIHF for doping. He was cleared for NHL play, last week, because the substance was not on the NHL banned substance list and Zaripov was not permitted to testify in his defense.
Zaripov appears willing to wait for all offers to be made before making a selection.
As many as four teams have inquired about Zaripov, two are believed to have offered contracts. Rumors have swirled around the New York Rangers interest in Zaripov, who has been a prolific scorer in the KHL. The Rangers are conceivably looking for a Russian mentor for talented but inconsistent forward Pavel Buchnevich, who showed flashes of brilliance last season.
At 6′-0 and 194lbs, Zaripov has the size, skating ability, and talent necessary to play in the NHL. However, transitioning from Russia to the North American style of play has not been easy for many players. Dismissive Penguins fans quickly jumped to the failed signing of Sergei Plotnikov, who didn’t score a goal in 45 NHL games, 32 with the Penguins. Other KHL players, such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Artemi Panarin have excelled in the NHL.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are also believed to have an interest in Zaripov. Tampa Bay missed the playoffs last season after two long seasons which include a loss in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final and a loss to the Penguins in the 2016 Eastern Conference Final. According to CapFriendly.com, the Lightning are about $3.2 million under the salary cap.
The Penguins begin informal workouts today at the Lemieux Complex in Cranberry. Training camp starts on September 15.
And no, the Penguins don’t yet have a third line center but a Zaripov signing could be the spark that leads to a couple moves…..