It appears Jalen Smereck could be returning to the American Hockey League this year after being the victim of a racist gesture from an opposing player in the Ukrainian Hockey League.

TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston reported Thursday that Smereck, who spent the past three seasons in the AHL, has heard from multiple clubs interested in signing him.

"Jalen Smereck has some options here developing and one of those paths is coming back to North America," Johnston said on Insider Trading. "He is a native of Detroit, he spent the last couple seasons in the American Hockey League and there have been multiple AHL teams that have reached out to his representative to see if there might be a fit and perhaps a home for him back here.

"Smereck did an interview with TSN’s Salim Valji on Thursday

and he made it very clear. He’ll play next week for HD Donbass in their champions hockey league game, but he doesn’t see a long-term future for himself in Ukraine. So, as he works through his options, it does appear coming back to North America is among them."

The 24-year-old defenceman has one goal and four points in three games with HC Donbass Donetsk this season. He had two goals and six points in 17 games with the AHL's Tucson Roadrunners last season.

HC Kremenchuk forward Andri Denyskin received a total of a 13-game suspension and a fine earlier this week for the racist gesture toward Smereck. The 23-year-old was ejected from the game between the two teams on Sunday after taunting Smereck, who is Black, by mimicking peeling a banana and eating it.

Smereck has called on the IIHF to hand Denyskin a lifetime ban.

"I would hate to say that he needs to be banned, but he just has to get banned," Smereck told Valji. "There’s no other way forward, there’s no other way around it. From what I’m hearing, this is the second time. He had an incident in North America, I think the North American League or something, so there’s so many things flying around right now. I think just no excuse for it. There was no apology. The apology he did give on Instagram was really, really bad. I think there’s no other way around it, just a ban from the whole game."