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Free agency leftovers

Mikhail Grabovski is one of many free agents still lingering on the open market. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Mikhail Grabovski is one of many free agents still lingering on the open market. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The opening day of this summer's free agent period saw 63 restricted and unrestricted free agents signed to new contracts.

In the two weeks since that frenzy, the signings have significantly slowed, especially for unrestricted free agents.

This summer's UFA market was already weakened by last season's re-signings of superstars like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. With most of the notable names (Daniel Alfredsson, Jarome Iginla, Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, Mike Ribeiro) snapped up on opening day, slim pickings remained for GMs hoping to bolster their rosters via free agency. Since July 5, Derek Roy, Marek Zidlicky and Dustin Penner are the only notable UFA signings.

Another reason for the limited activity is the reduction in the salary cap to $64.3 million, forcing some traditionally free-spending clubs to become more fiscally responsible. Several decent free agents are available, perhaps for bargain prices if this slow market drags through the summer.

Earlier this month, rumors linked aging right winger Jaromir Jagr to the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes. Lately, however, the Jagr speculation has dried up, which could explain the bizarre clip he recently posted to Facebook hinting his NHL career could be over.

Mikhail Grabovski's agent last week claimed several teams were interested in his client, but he's still available.

Grabovski, bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs the day before his wedding, is currently on his honeymoon, which could explain why he remains unsigned. With two 50-plus point seasons on his resume, Grabovski should interest clubs seeking an affordable two-way center. He also received an offer from a Kontinental League team, but Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports reports the former Leaf is intent on staying in the NHL.

Former Canuck Mason Raymond is another forward who, despite his agent's claims of interest from multiple teams, remains on the market.

Over the past two weeks there's been little mention of veteran goaltenders Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas. Bryzgalov's stock remains hampered by his short, unhappy tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers, while Thomas' age (39) and political views could be taking a toll on his value.

In the wake of Ilya Kovalchuk's retirement, the New Jersey Devils were rumored to be pursuing winger Damien Brunner. A report from Switzerland last weekend suggested a signing was close, but Brunner's agent claimed nothing was imminent.

The Carolina Hurricanes sought experienced blueline depth throughout last season. It was rumored earlier this week the Hurricanes had interest in veteran blueliner Ron Hainsey, though his addition could force them to shed salary to fit him on their roster.

Left winger Brenden Morrow is also believed on the Hurricanes radar.  His agent told the Raleigh News & Observer he'd spoken with the Hurricanes earlier this month and expects to do so again. Interest in Morrow from the Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings has reportedly waned

Red Wings GM Ken Holland hasn't ruled out signing veteran winger Daniel Cleary, but only if he can move out a player to free up salary.

Veteran winger Brad Boyes had 35 points in 48 games last season with the NY Islanders, but his name hasn't popped up in free agent chatter for some time.

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Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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