It looked as though Danis Zaripov was headed for the NHL when he was handed a two-year doping suspension by the IIHF. That restricted the Russian forward from playing in any European league including the KHL where he had suited up since the league’s inception. Now, the governing hockey body has settled with Zaripov and reduced his suspension to six months, which will mean he’s free to sign anywhere on November 23rd.
Several teams in the NHL had rumored interest in Zaripov, including the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning at various points. Evgeni Malkin even spoke out about how he’d like to have him in Pittsburgh, as the pair has lined up together at several international tournaments. Zaripov is a legendary player in Russia, with incredible playoff and international results. A four-time KHL champion and five-time World Championship medalist it’s likely that he’ll re-sign in Russia to finish his career.
At 36, there was a chance Zaripov could still be relevant to an NHL team but with the suspension reduced that outcome seems even more unlikely. Instead, he’ll go down as one of the most successful players to never suit up in a North American professional league. He did have a short stint in the WHL many years ago, but wasn’t drafted and returned to Russia after just one year.