Report: Blues in talks to sign banned KHL star Danis Zaripov

Russia forward Danis Zaripov. (Darko Bandic/AP)

The St. Louis Blues could soon be adding an X-factor into the fold.

According to a report from Russia’s R-Sport, the Blues are in talks to sign former KHL winger Danis Zaripov.

Zaripov played the 1998-99 season with the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL but outside of that the Chelyabinsk native has spent his career exclusively playing in Russia. The 36-year-old was an alternate captain with Metallurg Magnitogorsk over the the past four seasons following a 12-year run with Ak Bars Kazan. He made headlines earlier this year after the KHL and International Ice Hockey Federation banned him until 2019 for testing positive for pseudoephedrine during the 2016-17 campaign.

Pseudoephedrine is not considered a banned substance according to the NHL/NHL Players’ Association Drug Testing Policy, so the league announced in August that Zaripov had been declared eligible to sign with any NHL team.

“I look forward to continuing my professional hockey playing career in North America, and today I am very grateful to the senior management of the NHL for its decision, which provides me the opportunity to do so,” Zaripov said in a statement at the time.

The six-time KHL all-star and four-time Gagarin Cup champion has been considered among the best non-NHL hockey players for years.

“Danis Zaripov has a reputation in Russia what Pavel Datsyuk was here,” Zaripov’s agent Dan Milstein said back in August. “He’s an outstanding, world-class player.”

Milstein at the time said Zaripov would be looking for a one-year contract with an NHL team.

Zaripov has represented Russia multiple times at international competitions, including the 2010 Olympics and seven world championships. Penguins star Evgeni Malkin played on a line with Zaripov in some of those tournaments and indicated in August he’d be interested in seeing Zaripov in a Pittsburgh uniform.

Zaripov registered 199 goals and 252 assists for 451 points in 476 KHL games, adding 114 points in 127 playoff games.