Brenden Morrow claims he’s close to signing with a new team, more speculation the Maple Leafs could sign Mason Raymond, and Cody Franson could consider playing in Europe.

Brenden Morrow close to signing with a new team?

Brenden Morrow close to signing with a new team?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports UFA winger Brenden Morrow claims he’s getting closer to finding a new NHL team before the upcoming season begins, visiting an unnamed club on Thursday.

ESPN.COM: In addition to Morrow’s status, Lebrun reports Simon Gagne is working out in Quebec City waiting for a shot with an NHL team. He also reports UFA blueliner Wade Redden still hopes to play in the NHL but could also consider European options, while free agent winger Mike Knuble is in the process of moving on from his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of this group, Morrow certainly seems the most likely to get a new NHL contract.  He was linked to the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens during the off-season but it remains to be seen if they’re still interested in him.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox, citing hockey analyst Doug MacLean, reports the Toronto Maple Leafs and Mason Raymond have a prearranged deal for one year at $925K.  Sources from the Leafs and the Raymond camp have denied this. If this does go through, it would leave only $1.07 million in cap space to re-sign holdout defenseman Cody Franson.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Raymond has started contract talks with the Leafs but nothing is finalized.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports Cody Franson acknowledged the possibility of playing in Europe if unable to agree to a new contract with the Leafs. The holdout appears to be taking a toll on Franson, who is starting to question how the club views him as a player. Still, he says his priority is to remain in Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the second straight year Franson’s had difficult contract negotiations with the Leafs.  If they sign Raymond (and I believe they will), they’ll have to shed salary if they can get Franson to accept their two-year, $5 million offer. Otherwise, Franson could be faced with agreeing to considerably less than the $1.2 million he made last season. An offer sheet is possible but it seems unlikely at this point. The Leafs could shop his rights, especially if he decides to head overseas.