Despite scoring 26 points in 44 games in his first North American season, Damien Brunner is still without a contract. (Getty Images)
It's been a long, quiet summer for several notable unrestricted free agents, but with NHL training camps opening next week, some should soon find new homes.
Brenden Morrow: A rumor claimed the Montreal Canadiens could extend a training camp invitation to Morrow, but the veteran left winger wants a guaranteed contract. He also held talks earlier this summer with the Carolina Hurricanes. Although they’ve already invited Radek Dvorak to training camp, they remain interested in Morrow.
Ron Hainsey: The Hurricanes also reportedly had some interest in the 32-year-old defenseman, but nothing came of it. Hainsey's aggressive role as an NHLPA negotiator during the last lockout has some observers believing he's been blackballed by NHL owners.
Tim Thomas: Reports earlier this summer claimed several clubs had interest in the former Vezina winner. Since his former agent, Bill Zito, joined the Blue Jackets front office in mid-August, there’ve been no updates on Thomas' status.
Vinny Prospal: The Blue Jackets parted ways earlier this summer with the 38-year-old winger. Prospal moved his family back to the Czech Republic, where he could finish his playing days if he’s unable to land an NHL contract.
Damien Brunner: His reported asking price (two-to-three years at over $3 million per season) is why he remains unsigned. Brunner's agent, Neil Sheehy, recently claimed his client was willing to wait for the right deal. With training camps starting soon, Brunner's patience will be tested.
Ilya Bryzgalov: Only one club – the KHL's SKA St. Petersburg – seems interested in the former Flyers netminder. Bryzgalov prefers to remain in the NHL, but the KHL (whose season opens Sept. 4) could be his only option.
Ryan Whitney: His reduced skating ability hurts his free agent value. Earlier this summer, Edmonton Journal pundit Jim Matheson speculated Whitney could be a fit with the Hurricanes or NY Islanders. So far, however, there's no news of either team – or other NHL clubs – having interest in the former Oilers blueliner.
Mason Raymond: Agent J.P. Barry claimed earlier this summer there was “lots of interest” in the former Canucks winger, but the market value wasn't there yet. Raymond, who suffered a serious back injury over two years ago, could face a training camp tryout to prove he's regained his scoring form.
Hal Gill: The 38-year-old blueliner became a free agent following a contract buyout by the Nashville Predators. Gill acknowledged he had a lot to prove coming off an injury-shortened season and insisted he's not ready for retirement.
Jose Theodore: The former Florida Panthers starter claimed last month he'd spoken with a couple of teams. Apart from a recent false rumor claiming he'd signed with the Boston Bruins, however, he seems no closer to signing with a new club.
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.).
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