Updates on Derek Stepan, Marcus Johansson, Colin Wilson, Paul Byron, Brian Gionta and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

Derek Stepan's arbitration hearing is slated for today.

Derek Stepan’s arbitration hearing is slated for today.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers and Derek Stepan will try to close a $2.05 million gap as they head to salary arbitration today in Toronto.  Stepan reportedly seeks “$7.25 million and the club is offering $5.2 million, both on a one-year deal.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remember, the two sides can still negotiate a settlement within the 48 hour period between the completion of the hearing and when the arbiter’s decision is made. This drama could stretch on for two more days. 

**UPDATE**:  The Rangers announced the re-signing of Stepan to a six-year, $39 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never in doubt. It’s a pricey cap hit ($6.5 million annually), but right around what he was expected to get. The Blueshirts had little choice. Stepan, 25, is one of their best players and certainly their best two-way forward. It was going to be expensive to re-sign him, but if they hope to remain a contending team for the remainder of this decade, they needed Stepan under a long-term deal. 

 It also leaves the Rangers with around $425K in cap space, though they now have a complete 23-man roster for next season. However, that limited cap space could also make things interesting if one or two of their promising youngsters make a bid for a full-time roster spot. If that happens, don’t be surprised if the Keith Yandle trade rumors resurface during training camp. 

CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Having avoided an arbiter’s decision with goalie Braden Holtby, the Capitals hope to do the same with Marcus Johansson.

NBC SPORTS: Nashville Predators winger Colin Wilson is seeking a $4.25 million salary while the club has offered $3 million. Wilson’s arbitration hearing is slated for Tuesday, July 28.

**UPDATE** The Predators announced they’ve re-signed Wilson to a four-year, $15.75 million deal. Wilson will be paid $3.75 million in 2015-16, then $4 million in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 for an average annual value of $3.9375 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Slightly higher than the $3.5 million I projected, but still in the ballpark. It’s a reasonable new deal for the 25-year-old winger, who tallied 20 goals and 42 points last season. If he maintains or exceeds those levels over the next four years, it’ll be a worthwhile contract for the Predators. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames avoided salary arbitration with forward Paul Byron, inking him to a one-year, $900K contract.

NHL.COM: In addition to Stepan, Johansson and Wilson, hearings are also slated for Ottawa Senators forward Mike Hoffman (July 30), Minnesota Wild’s Erik Haula (July 31) and Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (also July 31).

 USA TODAY: Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta is confident his club will be considerably better next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the additions of Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Robin Lehner and Sam Reinhart, they’d better be. They won’t be a playoff contender but they won’t be the sad sack bunch they were last season. 

THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: EJ Montini believes, one way or another, the Arizona Coyotes will be leaving Glendale in 2017.

Check out “The Amazing History of Sledge Hockey,” sent to me by Tucker Hockey in Calgary.