On Danis Zaripov and the Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins are not at the point yet where they can be tabbed as having strong interest in 36 year old winger Danis Zaripov, but the team is doing some homework on the winger after Zaripov’s agent reached out to the Penguins last week to gauge any possible interest.

Zaripov, 36, had 15 goals and 22 points in 18 games with Metallurg Magnitogorsk during the playoffs, and 45 points in 56 games during the regular season. Zaripov is considered a legendary Russian player who won the KHL’s Gagarin Cup four times and the world hockey championship three times.

Among the biggest strengths in Zaripov’s game is his playmaking ability and hockey smarts, scouts say. He thinks the game at a high level who is “always in the right place,” and can play with high-end players one scout indicated.

NHL clubs are intrigued about Zaripov, there’s no doubt about that.

He’s looking for the “right opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup,” a source close to the situation said of Zaripov.

As of tonight, Zaripov has not received an offer that’s enticed the Zaripov camp to push forward yet and begin discussing a role, ect with the coaching staff which is very important before Zaripov who is currently training in Russia decides to sign with a team.

One of the primary teams the Zaripov camp would love to come forward with an offer is the Washington Capitals, who have just 10 forwards on 1-way contracts and Zaripov is close with the Russian players.

Like Pittsburgh, no offer yet from Washington.

League sources say one of the few teams that has made an official offer is the To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

The focus is trying to chase the dream of landing with a Stanley Cup caliber team, the Zaripov camp insists.

As for Pittsburgh, while no offer has been made by the Penguins and not one is imminent, per a team source, the team is still deliberating and figure to get back in touch with the agent later this week on whether they intend to make an offer or not.

Jason Mackey of Post-Gazette reported today the Penguins are taking a long look at Zaripov and that’s where things still stand as of late tonight.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford and his staff have received glowing reports about Zaripov from fellow Russians Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar that the Penguins have taken the step where head coach Mike Sullivan has conducted some film study.

However, as highly recommended as Zaripov can come from the likes of Malkin and Gonchar, the problem the Zaripov camp has endured from Stanley Cup contenders that are doing homework on Zaripov is no coaches from ‘teams they would like to sign with’ have seen him play in person.

The biggest questions scouts have is the skating ability combined with the age, though, Zaripov doesn’t have the type of wear and tear a career 36 year old NHLer would have as he’s never played more than 60 games in a season (regular season).

“32 year old legs,” a source said of Zaripov.

What’s the buzz on Zaripov from scouts about his skating?

These are not glowing reports.

“He’s not To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Another scout: “He plays at a [hide] slower pace that doesn’t fit with what a lot of clubs like to do. It’s a young mans game,” the scout said.

Other feedback around the league is if you want to an old top-9 winger who can’t skate very well, you might as well sign Jaromir Jagr.

Growing consensus is that Zaripov isn’t a great fit for the Penguins system but maybe at the end of the day, the Penguins decide to throw Malkin a bone for being a good soldier all these years.

“If Malkin wants him, they should sign him,” one NHL source said of the Penguins.

Someone is going to take a chance on Zaripov, just remains to be seen whether that chance will come from a Cup contender.

What a lot of coaches would want is bring Zaripov in on a PTO.[/hide]