Danis Zaripov eyeing NHL after KHL doping suspension

When we last saw Danis Zaripov, he had been suspended for two years by the International Ice Hockey Federation and by the KHL, which abides by the findings of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents, but he believed the focus was on that masking agent. Said Zaripov:

“From what I understand, the substance for which I received a two-year ban is not (a performance enhancer) itself. But WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency] experts for some reason decided that it was covering some stimulants. Or to be exact, it could have covered them. But I have a long career in hockey behind my back, and I can say with 100 percent confidence that I have never consumed anything illegal.”

Zaripov, 36, is a left wing with four KHL Gagarin Cup championships and three world championships for the Russian national team, as well as a 2010 Olympic appearance. He was due to begin a two-year contract with Ak Bars this season, but that’s not going to happen.

So Zaripov has checked his options, and it appears the NHL is going to be one. Mainly because it conducts its doping tests independent of WADA, so he’d be eligible.

From Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet:

He’s begun the process. Part of that is an attempt to become eligible to play in the NHL, and, according to a couple of sources, clarity is expected early next week. A couple teams indicated they expect he will be available. There are still questions regarding the winger’s plans for the upcoming season. His agent, Dan Milstein, declined to comment until after any official announcement.

Friedman mentions the New York Rangers and Vegas Golden Knights as possibilities. The Rangers currently have Chris Kreider, Rick Nash, J.T. Miller and Jimmy Vesey on the left side. But their overall depth at wing could use a steady pro like Zaripov.

As for the Golden Knights, that’s an easy one: They consider Vadim Shipachyov to be a major building block for the team. He’s currently the only Russian on the roster. During his time with the Washington Capitals, McPhee loved pairing veterans and young stars from the same country in his locker room – Sergei Fedorov for Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin, Michael Nylander for Nicklas Backstrom. Bringing in a Russian legend (within context) like Zaripov as a mentor would be along those lines.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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