Arbitration dates set; Gagner, Stewart up first

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Last week, 21 players filed for salary arbitration.

Today, 15 of them got their hearing dates.

The first two up are perhaps the two most interesting of the lot — Edmonton’s Sam Gagner and St. Louis’ Chris Stewart. The pair are slated for hearings on the morning of Monday, July 22.

Gagner, 25, finished second on the Oilers in scoring last season with 14 goals and 24 assists, playing on a one-year, $3.2 million deal.

For the Oilers, the problem with going to arbitration is that the maximum term that could be awarded is one year, which would leave Gagner — who’s already got six NHL seasons under his belt — a pending unrestricted free agent.

Stewart, 25, led St. Louis in scoring last year with 36 points in 48 games. His last contract, a one-year deal, paid him $3 million — though his situation is different than Gagner’s, in that Stewart needs two more years of service before becoming a UFA.

Here’s the full schedule of arbitration hearings, courtesy the NHLPA:

Hearing Date  AM/PM Player  Club
 July 22, 2013  AM  SAM GAGNER  EDM
 July 22, 2013 AM CHRIS STEWART STL
 July 23, 2013 AM ERIC TANGRADI WPG
 July 24, 2013 AM BRYAN LITTLE WPG
 July 25, 2013 AM NICK SPALING NSH
 July 26, 2013 AM CARL GUNNARSSON TOR
 July 29, 2013 AM BLAKE WHEELER WPG
 July 30, 2013 AM PAUL POSTMA WPG
 July 30, 2013 AM MARK FRASER TOR
 July 31, 2013 AM MATS ZUCCARELLO NYR
 July 31, 2013 AM DALE WEISE VAN
 August 1, 2013 AM ROBERT BORTUZZO PIT
 August 1, 2013 AM JORDAN NOLAN LOSA
 August 2, 2013 AM TREVOR LEWIS LOSA
 August 2, 2013 AM ZACH BOGOSIAN WPG

Should be noted that Brendan Smith (Detroit), Alec Martinez (Los Angeles), Jake Muzzin (Los Angeles), Ryan White (Montreal), Josh Bailey (New York Islanders and Erik Condra (Ottawa) all received new deals after they filed for arbitration.

Update: Cross Tangradi off the list, as he and the Jets agreed to a two-year, $1.35 million deal.

Preds expect answer from Fisher next week

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We should find out next week if Mike Fisher is going to retire or keep playing for the Predators.

Fisher, Nashville’s 37-year-old captain, is an unrestricted free agent. He confirmed last month that he was considering retirement. But first, he needed some time to think.

Yesterday, Preds GM David Poile said he expected an answer soon.

“I’m hoping to talk to him later this week to see where he’s at,” Poile said, per The Tennessean. “I’d say by next week, we should have an update.”

Fisher had 18 goals and 24 assists in 72 games last season, but then had just four assists in 20 playoff games as the Preds reached their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

If Fisher re-signs, he’ll likely be in the bottom six next season, with Ryan Johansen and newly signed Nick Bonino expected to center the top two lines. Fisher could even be the fourth-line center or a winger, allowing the likes of Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, and Frederick Gaudreau to take on bigger roles.

But for Fisher, hockey isn’t everything, and after more than 1,000 games in the NHL, he may simply opt to hang up the skates.

“Everyone wants to win in this game, no one probably more than me,” Fisher said. “But there’s other things. At the end of the day, this is a game. It’s an important part of my life, but it’s not everything.”

Related: Predators take Stanley Cup loss with grace and optimism

Habs sign Mark Streit — is he Markov’s replacement?

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The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.

This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.

Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.

What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.

That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.

Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.

Devils give Mirco Mueller two-year extension

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The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.

Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.

In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.

“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”

The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.

Rangers lock up Zibanejad for next five years

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The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.

The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.

With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.

But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.

Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season