Russian forward Danis Zaripov expected to become UFA after doping appeal

Russia forward Danis Zaripov. (Darko Bandic/AP)

There could be a late-summer addition to NHL free agency.

In July, 36-year-old Russian forward Danis Zaripov was suspended two years by the International Ice Hockey Federation. According to a KHL media release, Zaripov’s samples “contained banned stimulants plus substances prohibited as diuretics and masking agents.”

At the time, Zaripov swore to appeal. “I’m shocked,” he told Reuters news agency. “There’s nothing else to say.”

Since then, 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.

The KHL club Ak Bars Kazan voided Zaripov’s deal, which means he has no contractual commitments. There will be some NHL interest, with the Vegas Golden Knights and New York Rangers among those expected to pursue.

Zaripov had a tremendous 2017 playoffs for Magnitogorsk, scoring 15 goals in 18 games as it reached the championship final. He’s also won three world championship gold medals and played on the 2010 Russian Olympic team.

This is a pretty busy August by NHL standards. NCAA free agents Blaine Byron and Alex Kerfoot picked new teams, and Will Butcher may do so Sunday. New Jersey signed Drew Stafford, it’s believed Vancouver is taking a look at Thomas Vanek, and Jaromir Jagr is still out there.

Zaripov may be a new name in the mix.