NHL Morning Rumor Mill – July 9, 2013

Looking at the best available free agents, including Mikhail Grabovski, Jaromir Jagr and Milan Hejduk.

Jaromir Jagr among several notable unsigned free agents.

Jaromir Jagr is among several notable unsigned free agents.

SPORTSNET.CA: Luke Fox ranks the “best of the rest” of the NHL’s unsigned unrestricted free agents. Making the cut are Jaromir Jagr, Tim Thomas, Damien Brunner, Ilya Bryzgalov, Teemu Selanne and Mikhail Grabovski.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Jason Brough lists Jagr, Grabovski, Mason Raymond, Brunner and Ron Hainsey as those UFAs who could form part of a “second wave” of free agent signings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The depth in talent of this year’s free agent class was the shallowest in years even before last Friday’s frenzy of signings. Still, some decent second-tier talent  is available. Things have been quiet since Friday, but I daresay over the next several days most, if not all, the players noted above will be signed. As for Selanne, he shouldn’t even be on this list. It’s always Anaheim or nothing for him  and I expect the Ducks will sign him again to another one-year deal.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports Mikhail Grabovski’s agent believes the Maple Leafs mishandled his client, and claimed several teams were expressing interest in him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the reason Grabovski’s still available is a combination of his recent wedding and the shock of the Leafs unexpectedly buying him out prior to the start of the UFA period. Now that he’s had several days to collect his thoughts, Grabovski could sign with another NHL team by week’s end.

SPORTSNET’s Chris Johnston reported yesterday Jaromir Jagr’s camp believe the Montreal Canadiens no longer have serious interest in their client.

DENVER POST: Adrian Dater reports long-time Colorado Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk could sign with another NHL team if there’s interest in the 37-year-old. The Avalanche have informed Hejduk’s agent the winger no longer fits into their plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hejduk’s offensive production has significantly declined over the past two years. It’s possible another team could sign him, but I have my doubts.


  1. I’d say Hainsey would be a solid top 6 dman for a lot of teams, and the only one I feel is worth pursuing. I really liked Grabo, but after hearing his words (surprised or not), I wouldn’t go near him. Jagr’s asking for too much. Hedjuk’s best before date has passed, and Brunner will start on someone’s 3rd line come October.

    • With out a doubt the little rant he threw didnt help things either with trying find a deal, also sometimes agents really just should keep their mouths shut, again not helping the situation. I understand they probably feel duped but really it caught you that much off gaurd? You made 5.5 mill playing on the 3rd line and you didnt expect this at all? Come on many of us seen the writing on the wall for Grabo the minute they announced the amnesty buy out thing let alone how he played most the year, it was no secret that was probably the worst contract the Leafs had, besides Komi and at least the Komi contract only had a year left.

      Grabo your deal was horrible no one wanted it, get over it take your money and move on.

      • I think Grabo was more pissed off about how he was misused last year. I can understand his frustration of being bought out when the coach makes you look bad by changing your role. The only fault I see here is in Carlyle’s use of him. Having said that, there really was no alternative.
        Kessel (in my impression) is a bit of a cry-baby if he doesn’t play with his man-crush Bozak. Kadri was great last season (which I don’t think will happen in ’13-’14, brace yourself Leaf-Nation!) so Grabo was left to linger with reduced minutes and a defensive role in the 3rd line.

        • Where do you get the impression that Kessel is a “crybaby”? I follow this team pretty closely,and considering Kessel rarely,if at all ,talks to the media,there is absolutely nothing to base that statement on.Grabo throws a hissy-fit when he’s released ,and you think KESSEL is a crybaby?That’s pretty funny.

          • I don’t buy into Kessel being a cry baby either. He kept pretty quiet during the Bozak negotiations. Grabbo lost his role to Kadri and it was already clear he wasn’t a fit on the 1st line. Leafs tried him in a 2 way role which failed badly and the acquisition of Bolland squeezed him out completely. Fact is, Grabbo played well in Ron Wilson’s system and not so much in Carlyle’s system. Lupul adapted and remained productive…Grabbo didn’t.

            Besides…with the top 6 as is you could see some interesting lines form that could be a decent 1-2 punch with a third line pitching in as well.

    • I agree with your assessment of Hainsey, does anyone know what his asking price is though?

  2. I wonder what team will land Bryzgalov…

    P.S Would love Gagne or Cleary on my team.

    • Gange is longer a difference maker…he should call it day and make sure his marbles stay intact. At least Cleary has some sandpaper to his game. He’s definitely a worthwhile signing.

      • Gagne, no longer a 40 goal scorer he once was. He is 30-35pts 15 of them goals. He is still very good on D, still got those wheels and still valuable special teams contributor, very decent 5 on 5 too but unable to play physical game. Yes, I would prefer Cleary at this point but Gagne is a fan favorite in Philly.

        I do not mind him on 3rd line LW next to Couturier and Read. imo would be excellend d-sive line that can bite you iin the ass.

        • Great analysis on Gags. He can play. If he plays 82, he gets 20. Good in the room and on the PK.

      • Doesn’t Cleary have knee/hip issues? The word here in Motown is that he’s a lame horse. Flyers are tied to Edmonton & MTL in all the trade rumours on Detroit sports radio.Heard Bryz almost signed in Alberta, not sure which team though.

  3. Hainsey would be a excellent signing at 3 mill per for 3-4 yrs but I bet he wants 5 mill per. There’s just not enough space for guys this year. After the horrible deals thrown out on the 5th most teams are looking for trades, not inflated salaried FA’s.

    Speaking of trades, seems to me that there should be quite a few trades coming before the season begins. I’m thinking the Canadiens are definite in the trade mix but I’m not sure what pieces are in play.

    • Pittsburgh and SJ are tight with cap space.

      SJ has to resign Thornton/Marleau/Boyle next season. Plus, they have Pavelski (30 goal scorer) who will be asking for at least with Clarkson got. Do Sheppard/Wingels/Demers (RFA) get resigned? Not everything can happen, so expect moves from SJ. I expect Pavelski to be moved this season (unless he takes a considerable discount) as they have Couture and Joe will generate good return.

      • If the salary cap actually increases by the 4-6million, then all three players should be affordable. Not one of them is due for a huge salary increase if any. Joes value is going down, I love the guy but he isn’t getting any younger.

        • most likely you are correct. however that the salary cap level rising is speculative and no GM is betting their careers on speculation.

          i bet SJ moves out Pavelski, resigns Thornton/Marleau as much lower salaries, and I would even suggest Demers might be packaged in with someone. They are shy on wingers.

          • Marleu’s a goal scorer, plus he’s been pretty healthy so I think he could add a lot of value to a young team – thing is Patrick has an NMC. So Pavekski seems more likely at this point and San Jose needs some young pieces. I was surprised that Marty Havlat was not bought out, but he still must be injured. I do look for San Jose to make some trades over the next couple of weeks.

      • To Toronto: Pavalski
        To San Jose: Kulemin + Holzer + 2014 2nd Rounder

        Then San Jose will be under the Cap and have a 23 man roster. Kulemin is a great 2-way forward, Holzer would just add a dman to fill their defense. Then they get a 2nd rounder is what is projected to be another deep draft.

        • No way SJ does this and I am a Leaf fan. SJ will want Colbourne and a 1st.

          • Why, they’re [Pavalski & Kulemin] are nearly the same player. Kulemin is 2 years younger, selected in the 2nd Round, 44th overall. Pavalski was selected in the 7th Round, 204th overall. Kulemin’s cap hit is $1.2M less than Pavalski’s, and Kulemin is a slightly better 2-way player. Both are set to be UFA’s after next season, where Pavalski will likely demand more than Kulemin. San Jose is currently $400K over the maximum cap space.

          • And that is too much for little Joe.

    • Hainsey and good signing are two words that don’t fit together in my world. He seems to be a bottom pair at best.

  4. Brad Boyes is worth signing for depth purposes, assuming he signs for 900k or so.

    • I think he might be getting around 2.5-3 mill

    • Keep in mind Boyes’ numbers come from playing on the top line in NYI with Tavares. Think Hoglund + Sundin partnership, where’s the real talent?

  5. Out of all the guys remaining, I would sign Brad Boyes.

    • He’s not listed above, but I think Mason Raymond would be a solid 3rd-line winger signing.

  6. Morrow is the guy I would want if he agreed to a reasonable contract, he will have to accept a pretty significant drop from the 4 million he has been making. Sure he has lost a step but he’d be a good 3rd line veterean addition. He played well with Pitt last year when they had some hurts down the stretch

    • I would like to see Bflo sign Morrow or Cleary for leadership and mentoring our youth. I also wouldn’t mind them picking up Brunner as he would be a great improvement over Stafford. The bottom line is “all about the price tag” and I think the longer all 3 go unsigned, the more reasonably priced they become. It won’t break my heart if Darcy doesn’t pick one of them up, but it would squash some of criticism of him.


    • Tony – the Sharks haven’t done much – either during the draft, trading or FA signings. It was suggested by some of the sports writers in the bay area that Marleu, Thornton or Boyle be traded – thing is Marleu and Thornton have NMCs and Boyle has a limited NMC. The player that could easily be traded is Pavelski as Havlat is injured. I’m sure Pavelski has generated some interest, but I don’t think the Sharks are actively shopping him. Other than that, I really don’t see them doing much. So……what’s to write about?

      • There’s never much on any other teams here cause the forums are dominated by leafs fans who dream all day about non existant trades and signings, they don’t understand that every team in the league is not trading their best players to Toronto for their 3rd and 4th liners…. Open your eyes leaf nation, Burke was an idiot and minis is too, and Carlyle is a bad coach that misuses talent aka: grabovski


      Sorry caps lock was stuck ….

  8. I honestly think that Selanne will be the last signing for the Ducks. Looks like the youth movement has started in Anaheim. Dont get me wrong, I would love to add a Morrow to the third line and 2nd PP unit. I love his style of play and can chip in when he needs too. If he would take a 1 yr deal about $1.85 to $2m he might be worht the gamble. Grabo would be an welcomed addition, but from what I have read that he is looking in the $4M per that is way to steep when you have Holland waiting to get his shot.

    • as his career “winds down” this guy is still popping in 27 friggin goals. expect him to play another season. what young player wouldn’t beneift from playing with Selanne?

      • Bingo! This guy is ageless, still scoring like the young guns out there. Yes, he only wants to sign with Anaheim, but they know better than to low-ball a 25+ goal a year guy who can mentor their youngsters to the next level.
        Anaheim is lucky to have him so committed to their team

  9. Most of those top free agents are over the hill and should retire. Thomas shouldn’t be on that list. I don’t think anyone wants him. He’s old,crazy and rusty.

  10. Wouldn’t mind getting Brunner as an extra wing on the Sharks, as they are inconsistent with their scoring, maybe for the second line, as he doesn’t seem strong enough on his defense for the third line. Ideally, love to steal away Gus Nyquist from Detroit, or trade for him. That guy is awesome!

    • Sharks don’t have the cap space, infact they need to shed some $ for breathing room next year.

  11. Love, Love, love, Grabo’s rant. The Leafs deserved every bit of it waiting until 11:59 to place him on $100 waivers knowing the guy is getting married the next day and would have no time to field offers or meet with teams. Komi was informed 3 days in advance Grabo found out 30 seconds in advance. I hope the little fire cracker does well with who ever signs him and he sticks it to MLSE.

    • BeerGoggles, I agree. Sometimes it is better for a player to keep their mouth shut(PR and all that), but sometimes it’s good to here them speak their mind, too. Why do people think all players should be ‘yes men?’ A good player and a good leader should speak up if they believe in what they are saying. Speaking out is not always a bad quality…

      • Whining is never a good one…

    • Speaking out isn’t bad. Keeping quiet also isn’t being a ‘yes man.’ Speaking out and defending your abilities is something I want to see. Check out Lecav handled being bought-out. You don’t think he was extremely upset? Pride is more important than money for these folks.

      Where Grabo went wrong was taking the role of victim. He became a whiner, and blamed the coach for not using him properly when in reality – Grabo simply didn’t perform, and he should have at least owned that.

      • Exactly Rob…

        • I think it’s unrealistic for Grabovski to have performed to his previous pace due to the fact his role on the Leafs dwindled down to a bottom 6 forward.

          Now I’m not a Grabovski fan but the guy competes. If he wasn’t putting up numbers he was doing a fair job in preventing chances against. Most TML games I tuned into he looked good. 5.5m good? That’s another story.

          As for his comments, I found it refreshing. You may or may not agree with what he said but it was better than the generic comments/interviews we witness day in day out. Personally I can’t help but feel for the guy and believe the Maple Leafs could have handled the matter more professionally. His wedding night? That’s a bit tough.

          I’ve had a few buddies play under Carlyle in both the A and the show and have heard mixed reviews, but that’s the coach he is so I really wasn’t surprised to see a player speak out against him. Grabo had some legitimate points. I don’t think he was signed to be a 5.5 third liner…

          Be interesting to see who he signs with. Washington could be a fit depending on his salary demands.

          • Then he should have performed like a second liner not a third…

      • I disagree, Grabo indeed was not used properly by Carlyle. How is one expected to perform well in a role he’s never been put in before? Grabo was/is a 2nd line centre, not a checking one.
        Now, as for his rant he should’ve toned it down a bit and kept it to a minimum. A concise “I don’t feel that I was given the proper opportunity to prove my worth with this coach” would have been enough.
        Every NHL fan knows he was put into a role that was not fit for him.
        I hope he does get a chance to play top 6 minutes and light it up.

        • Was he used properly by Wilson when they went 1-9-1? After christmas a couple years ago you know when Ronnie got fired? I believe he was playing the second line then and not doing much either….

    • fact is, if the buds were not in the Clarkson sweepstakes, grabo would still be a leaf. nonis was just keeping all his irons in the fire by waiting til the last minute. unfortunate for grabs, but that’s business.

      nonis also kept the door open to buy out liles instead of grabs, but needed the extra cap space with the $$ and term of Clarkson’s deal.

      don’t get me wrong. I like grabo, especially in the bell centre. he’ll be missed, but not much.

      • With the new 48 hour negotiating window the leafs got a strong indication that Clarkson was gonna sign with them which prompted the buyout. No DC no Grabo buyout.

    • Whether or not it’s fair to expect Grabo to perform the same isn’t my point. I personally would have prefered him over Bozak – I like his compete level. The point is, don’t be a whiner. Don’t be a whiner, and don’t blame someone outside of yourself for something bad happening to you. Rule of Life: you get what you give.

      The obvious next question is, why was he not used “properly?” Did Carlyl not like him, or did he not come out of the gate like a $5.5M player should have? I do remember him starting on the 2nd line.

      You can be sure that if he’s willing to blame others after he was cut, he probably wasn’t shy about blaming others while he was playing. The one thing consistent about blamers and whiners.. it’s never their first time, it’s never their last time.

      If I’m a GM looking to hire a UFA, I want players to stake a claim that they’re going to make their former team regret their decisions like Schnieder did. I don’t want him going, “oh boo hoo, I wasn’t used properly.”

      • I like Grabo over Bozak too, but I understand why they made the decision they did. Sure Bozak isn’t a #1 centre but he is a very valuable centre (ala Horcoff in his prime). The coach trusts him, 2-way responsible and solid on the PK and faceoffs… you can play him any of those situations, Sure he might not be elite in any of them but he is at least above average, and you can’t say that for most players.

        His cap hit isn’t so bad at 4mill. The way I look at it the top two centres for the Leafs future are Kadri and Bozak in some sort of 1A and 1B scenario. A franchise 1st line all-star centre would have a cap hit of about 7-8mill, while Kadri and Bozak will get that roughly combined.

        Grabo definitely has more offensive potential, but what is done is done, and the fact that the Leafs aren’t going to have an on-going cap penalty makes me okay about since we are rich team that can just redistribute the money elsewhere now.

        • Also Bozak could eventually slide into the #3 centre role, if the Leafs do get Joe Thorton or somebody. I don’t necessarily see Bolland being a long term fit if he wants more than what he is making in a cap world in a 3rd line/4th line role.

      • Rule in life for defeatists, maybe. Very first-born and complacent attitude. Not the rule in life.

    • This is a business, players get bought out, get traded or get demoted…suck it up Grabo and everyone else…and move on!

  12. If Grabovski lands anywhere in a top 6 scoring role like in Washington or Winnipeg, the Leafs are going to look stupid. In Winnipeg they need playmakers like Grabo and he could put up 50-70 points easy. Sure he was overpaid, but he was badly misused in Toronto this past season. Grabo plays such a determined 2-way game with great creativity he is like a Datsyuk-lite. He had one bad patch of game this season and he was run out of town.

    Where in the world is Jagr going to end up? Originally I thought with a former team but now I don’t know. He can play 2nd line minutes and top PP but he doesn’t fit in with hard ass coaches lol.

    • Grabo played well under Wilson for some reason. He was defensively responsible and was always a threat to score. He made MacArthur and Kuli better players that year teaching them to back check while finding chemistry. This year he lost confidence and everything fell apart. Weird how that happens. He will come back big time.

      • Well, he played on 3rd and 4th line.. How is that weird? Not weird at all..

        Not sure why Nonis picked such a timing, I guess he could not trade him?
        At the same time Edmonton was able to dump 2 years 5.5M a year Horcroff…

        So how come Nonis was unable to trade Grabovski? That’s weird…

        • They did not trade him out for a reason. The Leafs wanted to make sure they got all the cap space in return . I imagine there may have been deals out there where the Leafs would take salary in return

          • Exactly

        • I think that has more to do with the Grabo attitude then anything else, Horcoff has always been looked at as a good team guy and can still win faceoffs in a young locker room will be looked up to, not exactly the same with the little Russian dude who dosent speak english all that well and bites, not sure he gets much respect around the league, other players who have played with him dont have much good to say about him.

      • Even before this year tho Grabo didnt look the same remember the 18 wheeler going off the cliff thing 2 years ago? Not like Grabo was shooting the lights out during the 1win 9 loss slump after christmas that cost Wilson his job. It was the shortened season plus half another season that Grabo well under performed and yet people seem to think its Carlyles fault for putting him on the 3rd line? Carlyle wasnt here for half of Grabos collapse Burke made a big error in that signing he was the GM the responsibility lies with him and Grabo for not living up to it to bitch and moan about a coach and the shock of a different GM trying to better his team was classless, I agree with Rob Vinny did much more for the lightning was probably just as upset and in shock but didnt look whiney and took it like a grown man. To say this is Carlyle fault is very short sighted and immature it began long before he was even the coach.

        • I encourage you to compare Grabo’s first 5 games w/ Kadri’s. In my opinion, Carlyl didn’t play Grabo wrongly. Kadri took Grabo’s job away as 2nd C. Grabo got caught napping.

          Grabo’s salary didn’t have anything to do with it. Whether he made $5M or $2M, what’s Carlyl to do when Kadri is lighting it up, and going out hitting people too.

          The first game of the year says it all, the first 5 is just a larger sample size.

        • Well, Vinny did take the buyout in stride. – There is quite a difference between his situation and Grabovski’s.

          Yzerman informed Lecavalier before the 29th of June of the Lightning’s plans moving forward and the fact that he was going to be bought out.
          …It’s a different situation all together.

          In regards to Carlyle, call me short sighted and immature but if I’m a coach and I have a 5.5 million dollar player that’s “slumping” (your opinion) I’m doing whatever it takes to get him going again.

          I mean let’s be realistic here, it’s a bad course of events that doesn’t look good on either parties. He wasn’t a Carlyle player, or a 5.5 million guy at that. He had the coach and his contract working against him, fine. I have no issues in the buyout itself, rather the way it was carried out.

          I can understand Grabovski’s frustration. Did he handle it well? Negative.
          Perhaps it’s being short sighted on your end to say he had real a fair shake last year.

          • Nitro, from what I’ve heard the Flyers have agreed in principal for a deal with Gagne?
            Really hoping they can move one of Mez or Grossmann and hold onto Coburn.

            Hartnell Giroux Voracek
            Schenn Lecavalier Simmonds
            Gagne Couturier Read
            Hall Talbot Rinaldo ex: McGinn, Rosehill

            Timonen Schenn
            Coburn Streit
            Grossmann Gustafsson


            We’ll be back in the mix.

          • The timing is unfortunate, but I seriously doubt it had to do with Nonis messing with Grabo. i’m sure it had far more to do with waiting for a potential deal to come in, and then releasing at the last minute because one did not. Either way, this is a business and players know this.

            But let’s not make this about Carlyl not playing Grabo properly, or Grabo slumping. If I buy a pair of $100 scissors (expensive) and they begin working like a $5 pair and my previously gifted pair of scissors start working much better, what do you think happens to the $100 pair of scissors? [don’t ask me about why scissors]

            This happened not because Grabo was slumping, even though he was. This happened because Kadri excelled and took the 2nd C job. Plain as that.

          • What about the previous year what was his excuse then? His production dropped there to from the previous year as well since Jan 2012 he scored 19 goals that is nowhere near enough for a guy making 5 mill a year and some of that was on Wilsons watch as a coach not just Randy and alot of that time was on the second line Rob and I both said he lost his job to a better player that simple. He made 5 million a year and is not worth itfor a third line player. What is funny tho is that most people at the trade deadline if you would have said we traded Grabo for Clarkson would be all over it like they won the jackpot but buy Grabo out to pick up a 30 goal scoring winger that fights and people are whining for Grabo thats nuts. Also if he is such a heart and soul guy why is he on his 3rd team and not signed yet? Sure he got married but did he take his agent on his honeymoon with him?

          • Plain and simple. Grabo’s contract not worth the $5.5M/yr hit. Wake up people, it’s a business.

          • Nice post, but we also have to take into consideration, Grabo isn’t the most well-behaved-spoken player either. He tends to get hot headed easily. Why isn’t he signed with a team yet, because teams aren’t a fan of how he acts.

            Grabovski will either be a deadline signing, or will play in the KHL.

  13. Mr. Hejduk please stand here by the curb..OK here comes the bus…wait for it and under you go!
    Best wishes Avalanche management team.

  14. Sharks fans have nothing to be excited about,management repeatedly does nothing with the problem;Thornton,Marleau and Boyle.I witnessed several Baby Sharks games in Worcester last season.They suck.Not much on the horizon,not much in “the tank”.They cannot even make the playoffs.They give away tickets in Worcester no one goes.