List of the top remaining NHL unrestricted free agents, plus the latest on the Rangers and Oilers. 

Lists of top remaining NHL UFAs.

SPORTSNET: Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff, Johnny Oduya, Alexander Semin and Chris Stewart tops Luke Fox’s list of the  top-14 players remaining in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.

ESPN.COM: Matthew Coller also recently ranked the best available NHL UFAs by position. Semin, Stewart, Eric Fehr, Brad Boyes and Jiri Tlusty are atop his list of forwards, while Ehrhoff, Franson, Oduya, Matt Irwin and David Schlemko are his leading defensemen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I recently ranked the best available by position for Bleacher Report. It’s a tad dated now, as Andrew Desjardins, Shawn Matthias and Joel Ward have signed with new clubs since it was published, but still worthwhile if you’re curious about where I rank the rest. 

Can the Rangers afford to re-sign Stepan?

Can the Rangers afford a new contract for Derek Stepan?

Can the Rangers afford a new contract for Derek Stepan?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy lists the high profile potential salary arbitration cases this summer. Topping the list is Stepan, who could prove difficult for the cap-strapped New York Rangers to re-sign, especially if an arbiter awards him a $7 million deal for 2015-16. Kennedy also notes the Stepan camp cannot cite Ryan O’Reilly’s new contract with the Buffalo Sabres as a comparable in arbitration, because they’re in different free-agent groupings as per the CBA.

CBS NEW YORK: Sean Hartnett believes if the Stepan camp seeks anything over $6.5 million annually, it could force the Rangers to consider trading the 26-year-old center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers cannot trade Stepan before his arbitration hearing, as the CBA forbids such a move. They’ll have to convince him to accept $6.5 million or less. Most cases are settled before they reach arbitration, but this one could bear watching in the coming days. 

Latest on the Oilers. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples reports the Oilers taking Justin Schultz to arbitration opens an opportunity for them to buy out another player. He wonders if they’ll use the opportunity to buy out defenseman Nikita Nikitin. Jonathan Willis wonders if the Oilers recent acquisition of goaltender Anders Nilsson means they’ve soured on Ben Scrivens. He cites TSN’s Ryan Rishaug speculating Scivens could become a buyout candidate. Willis notes that might not happen as Scrivens is earning less than $2.75 million for 2015-16, but suggests a trade as a possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A buyout of Nikitin appears more likely in this situation. Scrivens could hit the trade block, though the Oilers insist their pickup of Nilsson was merely to bolster their goaltending depth in their system.