Legendary KHL winger Danis Zaripov was cleared to sign with an NHL club this week despite his ongoing two-year suspension from the Russian league, and yesterday we learned that the Tampa Bay Lightning had made contact. Today, that connection becomes even more apparent as Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Lightning are a “preferred landing spot” for Zaripov’s camp.
The 36-year old shares an agent—Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey—with both Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov, and Tampa Bay has a long history with giving opportunities to Russian players. Zaripov, who is one of the greatest playoff performer in KHL history, could find a nice temporary home with the Lightning as he appeals his suspension.
The two-year ban was handed out earlier this year, but the NHL ruled that Zaripov wouldn’t have been suspended under their internal doping policy. He’s clear to sign a contract with anyone, and since he’s over the age of 35 it could include performance bonuses (should it be just one year in length). The Lightning have just over $3.25MM in projected cap room for the season.