Largely unnoticed earlier today was the placement of Damir Sharipzyanov on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a mutual contract termination. The 22-year old defenseman actually spent last season in the KHL on loan, but will now have his NHL rights relinquished by the Los Angeles Kings. Tomorrow after his contract is terminated he could technically sign with another NHL team, but it seems likely that he will return to the KHL.
Sharipzyanov, 22, signed an entry-level contract in 2015 after going undrafted for the second time and returned to the Owen Sound Attack for a final season and won a silver medal for Russia at the World Juniors. His point totals were solid if unspectacular, and he had the size to potentially find success at the professional level. After a season spent bouncing between the ECHL and AHL, he decided to go to the KHL where he would have a better opportunity. In this interview with Alessandro Seren Rosso for The Hockey Writers, Sharipzyanov did seem to indicate that he would want to come back to North America eventually.
I had a chance to get back home. To be loaned [to the KHL]. And then to get back to North America. I simply want to play. I didn’t have this option [in North America] at this moment. That’s why I and my agent decided to give the KHL a chance.
It seems unlikely that the Kings would give up his rights if he intended on playing in North America this season, meaning we’ll likely have to wait to see if there is a return down the road. If his first season in the KHL was any indication—where he recorded 16 points in 54 games while logging nearly 20 minutes a night—there could be plenty of teams after him in a few years.