Report: Contract talks stall between Rangers, Stepan


By keeping Brad Richards in the fold, the New York Rangers basically decided to stay out of the free agent market this summer. They also made retaining some key players of their own that much tougher.

The most important name still unsigned is Derek Stepan, who is a restricted free agent without salary arbitration rights. The New York Post reports that the 23-year-old and his team haven’t made progress in their discussions lately. In fact, the haggling could even stretch out into September (possibly even training camp).

The Rangers also face the prospect of Mats Zuccarello going to arbitration. The Post reports that the 26-year-old forward wants between $1.5 and $2 million while the Rangers are offering “considerably less than that.” With just 67 NHL games under his belt, the 26-year-old winger could represent an interesting case if he gets to that process.

While IR slotting might buy GM Glen Sather a little more breathing room, Cap Geek estimates that the Rangers have about $3.3 million in cap space right now.

One could argue that Stepan deserves that much alone after scoring 44 points in 48 games in 2013 and becoming either the team’s No. 1 center or 1a/1b with Richards.

With new CBA rules prohibiting a team from walking away from any arbitration award under $3.5 million, Sather might need to make a trade or two before the offseason is over for all of this to work.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
1 Comment

Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
1 Comment

Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen