Sam Gagner seeking $5.5 million in arbitration, the Flyers re-sign Sean Couturier, an explanation behind the stagnant UFA market, and more.

Sam Gagner seeks substantial raise via arbitration.

Sam Gagner seeks substantial raise via arbitration.

TSN: reports Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner is seeking $5.5 million next season in arbitration. His hearing is slated for tomorrow, unless he and the Oilers can agree to a new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gagner made $3.2 million last season. The Oilers don’t want this going before an arbiter. History has shown players who receive an arbitration-awarded contract usually end up hitting the UFA market when that contract expires. Gagner, 23, will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, and I don’t think the Oilers should risk losing him that way. If he gets an arbitration-awarded contract, trade rumors will surely dog him next season, especially if the Oilers are doing poorly again.

PHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers yesterday re-signed center Sean Couturier to a two-year, $3.5 million contract, worth an annual cap hit of $1.75 million. It’s believed the club could next set its sights on re-signing Brayden Schenn and Matt Read.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the reduction in the salary cap is behind the current stagnation in the UFA market. “Teams with money didn’t have the space, while the teams with space aren’t the ones who traditionally spend big money”, writes Brooks. “Thus, despite eye-popping cumulative numbers — incorrectly interpreted as a sign nothing had changed and the lockout was meaningless — the market became stagnant very quickly.”

Players like Mikhail Grabovski, Ron Hainsey, Brad Boyes, Nik Antropov and Dan Cleary remain unsigned, prompting Brooks to wonder if most of these players end up accepting one-year deals for significantly reduced rates, and how many could remain unsigned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks is partially correct, as the decline in the cap has squeezed traditional free-spending clubs while those with apparently significant cap space are operating under their self-implemented lower cap ceilings. The other reason, quite simply, is the depth of talent in this summer’s free agent pool was significantly shallow to being with, and was substantially drained on the opening day. If you look at the full list of players noted by Brooks in his column, you’ll see most barely qualify as second-tier talent now. Little wonder, then, general managers aren’t stampeding to sign up most of them.

USA TODAY: Kevin Allen makes his early projections for the US Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey team at the Sochi Olympics in February. Among those on Allen’s list are Jonathan Quick, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, Dustin Brown, Ryan Suter and Keith Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Team USA will certainly be among the favorites to win gold at Sochi.

NORTH JERSEY.COM: Tom Gulitti reports Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is pleased with his stable of promising young defensemen, particularly Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas. It’s possible Lamoriello could be forced to move a veteran defenseman if one of the younger blueliners is ready to crack the roster.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Jets have re-signed defenseman Zach Redmond to a one-year, two-way contract. Redmond has recovered from a serious leg injury which all but finished his 2o12-13 season.