As we discussed this weekend, banned KHL player Danis Zaripov had started the process to become eligible for a contract in the NHL. Today, his agent Dan Milstein released a statement from the Russian forward thanking the NHL for allowing him to pursue contracts here in North America. Zaripov had been given a two-year doping ban from the KHL for testing positive both for a prohibited substance and masking agent. He is appealing the decision, but will likely sign in the NHL in the interim.
The NHL issued a press release on Zaripov, which among other things indicated that his test results would not have triggered a suspension under the NHL’s own prohibited substance list. The NHL operates separately from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the IIHF governing body, issuing its own drug tests and policies.
Zaripov is a legendary KHL player who has won the Gagarin Cup four times, holds five World Championship medals and competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Though he’s on the back-half of his career, he still registered 45 points for Magnitogorsk in just 56 games and added 22 more (including 15 goals) in 18 playoff games. He’s been one of the most impressive playoff performers in the KHL and Russian leagues for his entire career, and could add a different wrinkle to a team in the NHL.
An even more interesting factor for Zaripov is his age. While he’ll face no entry-level restrictions upon coming to the NHL, any contract he does sign will be held to the 35+ restrictions and allowances. That means that he presents some risk on a long-term deal, but could also be signed to an incentive-laden one-year deal which is what he’ll likely end up with. Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press tweets that Milstein expects a one-year pact, which would allow him to reevaluate next summer.