Would Danis Zaripov Fit in Pittsburgh?

On August 29th, Danis Zaripov was banned from the KHL and the IIHF for illegal substances. However, the substances he was banned for are not banned in the NHL, so Zaripov has expressed interest in signing with an NHL team. Saturday during training camp,  Evgeni Malkin once again mentioned how much he would like to see Zaripov in the Pittsburgh black and gold. As reported by Jason Mackey, Malkin told the press that “If [Sullivan] talks to me a little more, I would say more. I like him (Zaripov) so much. Of course I want to see [him here].” Obviously Malkin would love to see Zaripov here but would he fit here in Pittsburgh, and would it be in the best interests of the team?


Above are some of Zaripov’s best plays from his career with the KHL club Kazan Ak-Bars. Impressive right?

He certainly possesses the skill and speed to be a dangerous winger in the NHL, and that speed and skill is exactly what the Penguins are built around. A line with him, Malkin, and Kessel would not only be one of the best second lines in the league, and would be arguably better than many NHL team’s power play units.

I know what you are thinking. This video is 5 years old. He is 36 years old now. He may be out of his prime but his stats haven’t really fallen. In fact, according to EliteProspects.com, in last year’s KHL playoffs he had 15 goals and 7 assists for a combined 22 points in a mere 18 games. Imagine what he could do on the wing of Malkin, one of the best centers in the NHL right now, and 2 time Stanley Cup Champion, Phil Kessel.

Now here’s the problem. According to Cap Friendly the Penguins only have $3.2 million in Cap Space, and they will most likely need the majority of it for a third line center, assuming they aren’t going to try and use someone else like Bryan Rust, Adam Johnson, or anyone else currently in the organization to permanently fill the role of third line center.

Here is why Zaripov being 36 is almost a good thing. If he were to sign a deal it would most likely be only a one year ‘prove it’ type of deal. So if he really does want to play in the NHL, he isn’t going to get paid the $3 million he did in the KHL. At least not until he proves he can be a dangerous winger in the NHL. So he probably won’t get signed anywhere in the NHL for more than $1 or $2 million. The Penguins could afford spending around $1 million on him if they use a center already in the organization or shed some cap in the trade to acquire the third line center.

An additional reason why he may not be a good fit in the Burgh’ is simply that he is a winger. The Penguins are overflowing in young winger depth and Zaripov will just get in the way of players like Zach Aston-Reese, Daniel Sprong, Frederik Tiffles, and Thomas DiPauli.

Signing Zaripov probably isn’t a very good use of the precious remaining cap space as he doesn’t fill the all too important third line center void. But having a second line of Zaripov, Malkin, and Kessel could very well be worth the cap space. So in my opinion, the only real potentially deal breaking downside is how much he is willing to get paid.

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