The cap-strapped Rangers had carried three extra players since opening night, and something had to give. The logjam broke on Tuesday, when veteran tough guy Tanner Glass, with two years remaining on a three-year, $4.35-million contract, was placed on waivers.
If the 31-year-old left wing is not claimed by noon on Wednesday, he likely will be assigned to Hartford, but only $950,000 of his $1.45 million annual salary charge can be buried in the AHL. The Rangers would carry the remaining $500,000 as dead space, unless Glass is claimed. Then the entire contract is off the books.
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Glass played 66 games last season, with a goal and six points, and 98 penalty minutes. He played only two of seven games this month, on the fourth line, totaling two shots and four penalty minutes.
The move leaves Emerson Etem, 23, as the 13th and spare forward and Dylan McIlrath, also 23, as the extra defenseman. Had the Rangers waived Etem, who was acquired in the Carl Hagelin trade to Anaheim, or McIlrath, a first-round draft choice in 2010, there was a strong risk that a team would claim them.
Glass was signed as a free agent on July 1, 2014, because the front office needed to restore a fourth line. They did not re-sign Brian Boyle and traded Derek Dorsett to Vancouver and wanted a deterrent and penalty-killer.
Coach Alain Vigneault vouched for Glass, whom he coached from 2009 to 2011, when Glass played 140 games, with seven goals, 14 assists and 187 penalty minutes for Vancouver. His deal with the Rangers was met with criticism at the time by observers around the league, because of the cap hit and term of the contract.
The transaction will leave the Rangers, who did not practice on Tuesday, with 22 players, and some wiggle room: about $1.1 million in cap space.
General manager Jeff Gorton has several options: He can sit tight and consider deals before the Feb. 29 trade deadline or he could call up a player from Hartford, if necessary. Among the candidates who could fit are defensemen Raphael Diaz ($700,000) and Brady Skjei ($925,000) and forwards Brian Gibbons ($750,000) and Jayson Megna ($600,000).
Glass, a Saskatchewan native, also played for the Panthers, who drafted him in 2003, the Jets and Penguins. In 445 regular-season NHL games, he was 19-41-60, with 560 penalty minutes and a minus-47.