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Grabovski tops list of remaining free agents

Mikhail Grabovski was bought out by the Maple Leafs on July 4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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Mikhail Grabovski was bought out by the Maple Leafs on July 4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Former Toronto Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski remains among the few notable players still available on the free agent market.

As a result, speculation has increased over which NHL team the recently married Belarusian will sign with once he returns from his honeymoon.

Gary Greenstin, Grabovski’s agent, told ESPN.com's Craig Custance three teams are interested in his client, but no decision is expected until August.

NBC Sports' Jason Brough suggested the Winnipeg Jets as a good destination, since Alexander Burmistrov's defection to the Kontinental League leaves them short at center.

The Jets, however, still have to re-sign RFAs Blake Wheeler and Zach Bogosian before their arbitration hearings next week.

Wheeler earned a cap hit of $2.55 million on his previous contract, while Bogosian's was $2.5 million. Their new contracts (either negotiated with management or awarded via arbitration) could push the Jets payroll to $60 million and leave management leery about taking on more salary.

The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons also had the Jets on his list of speculated destinations for “Grabo,” as well as the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames.

The Capitals, however, still have to re-sign RFA Marcus Johansson. That's expected to leave them with around $4 million in cap space, which GM George McPhee isn’t keen to use on free agents.

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon, meanwhile, said his plan is to stick with his young players. Flames GM Jay Feaster also appears focused on moving ahead with youth.

Given the lack of quality talent remaining in the free agent market, those GMs with interest in Grabovski aren't about to tip their hands.

RED WINGS MAY BE FORCED INTO TRADE MARKET

The Detroit Red Wings have yet to re-sign RFAs Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson, but GM Ken Holland is confident the duo, who don't have arbitration rights, will be under contract when training camp opens in September.

Re-signing them would give the Wings an excess of forwards, plus Holland also expressed interest in signing unrestricted free agent, and long-time Red Wing, Dan Cleary. To make room for the trio, Holland would have to trade a couple of forwards.

The Edmonton Journal's Jonathan Willis speculated about who could be shopped.

He doubted veterans Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi would fetch much in return, partly because of their salaries and no-trade clauses.

Gritty Jordin Tootoo ($1.9-million cap hit) saw limited action with the Wings this past season and is a likely trade candidate. Other options include Cory Emmerton and Patrick Eaves.

Willis wondered if a rival GM could sweet-talk Holland into parting with Nyquist or Andersson, or perhaps even Justin Abdelkader or Tomas Tatar.

Those players would undoubtedly attract more interest around the league and fetch a far better return, but Holland is banking on them forming the core of the Red Wings future.

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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