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Best leftover free agents

Mason Raymond struggled with the Canucks since sustaining a neck injury in the 2011 Stanley Cup final. (Getty Images)

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Mason Raymond struggled with the Canucks since sustaining a neck injury in the 2011 Stanley Cup final. (Getty Images)

For the first time since the opening weekend of free agency a notable name was signed, as Jaromir Jagr inked a one-year bonus-laden contract with the New Jersey Devils.

Heading into the final weekend of July, here's an update on some of the notable players still available.

Mikhail Grabovski: TSN's Aaron Ward reported sources close to Grabovski claim he's narrowed his choices down to three teams.

No word on which clubs those are, but Ward dismissed reports suggesting the Winnipeg Jets were among them.

The Washington Capitals lack an experienced second-line center, but GM George McPhee is reportedly uninterested in the free agent market, preferring to wait until training camp to address his roster needs.

Still, CSN Washington's Chuck Gormley played up Grabovski's skating and playmaking ability, as well as the three 20-plus goal seasons on his resume.

With Grabovski available and affordable, one wonders if McPhee will reconsider his earlier stance.

Ilya Bryzgalov: While still considered among the best available free agents this summer, Bryzgalov's stock has taken a tumble. He was even passed over for invitation to Russia's Olympic orientation camp.

Though there's not much of a market for goaltenders this summer, Bryzgalov's two turbulent seasons in Philadelphia have hurt his value, prompting speculation he could end up in the KHL next season.

Ron Hainsey: The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons wondered if Hainsey's “heavy involvement” in NHL CBA negotiations was affecting the defenseman's efforts to find a new NHL home.

Hainsey's coming off a five-year, $22.5-million contract, but his value depreciated over the course of that deal, which could explain why he's yet to land with a new club.

The 32-year-old blueliner's offensive numbers have declined, but he’s still defensively sound. He was recently linked to the Carolina Hurricanes, while the NY Islanders and Colorado Avalanche could also have interest.

Mason Raymond: His agent claimed there was plenty of interest in Raymond, but it could take time until he receives an acceptable contract offer.

Raymond, 27, scored 25 goals in 2009-10, but has since struggled to regain his scoring form. A serious back injury suffered during the 2011 Stanley Cup final also raised concern over his performance.

For teams in need of a fleet-footed winger with a decent scoring touch, Raymond would prove an affordable pickup. He made $2.275 million last season, and before that had a two-year deal that paid him $2.5 million then $2.6 million.

Given how stagnant the free agent market has become, he'll be lucky to make $2 million per on his next contract.

Brenden Morrow, Tim Thomas, Brad Boyes, Damien Brunner and Daniel Cleary: ESPN.com's Craig Custance ranked them (along with Grabovski) among the best players still available, but of late they've been rarely mentioned in the rumor mill.

Morrow was linked to the Hurricanes, Thomas' agent is reportedly trying to find the right fit for his client, while the only mention of Boyes these days comes from rumor bloggers linking him to the Canucks.

Brunner's suitors have likely balked at his reported $3.5 million per season asking price, while the Red Wings would like to bring Cleary back, but can't afford to until they've cleared some cap space.

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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