The Rangers are within a whisker of finalizing their opening-night roster.
After waiving and reassigning five players Friday, they are down to 24. That includes rehabbing forward Oscar Lindberg, who won’t be ready until next month and presumably will be placed on injured reserve.
So the Rangers can retain their 13 healthy forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders and stay at the NHL-maximum 23, or they can maneuver a bit before rosters must be submitted to the league on Tuesday.
The Rangers currently are $2.025 million under the $73-million salary cap. They could stand pat or shed a defenseman, although coach Alain Vigneault often has said that for practice purposes, having eight blueliners is a bonus.
The Blueshirts waived two veteran forwards, Tanner Glass and Nathan Gerbe, and assigned goalie Magnus Hellberg and emerging prospect Cristoval “Boo” Nieves, 22 — a 6-3 center who could be back this season after Thursday night’s successful debut — to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack.
Glass, 32, the feisty fourth-liner who was with the Rangers for the previous two seasons and carries a $1.45-million salary-cap charge for this season, cleared waivers in October 2015 and was brought back. If Glass, who played 57 games last season, is claimed, the Rangers will erase the entire charge; if he is assigned to Hartford, they will carry only $500,000 on the books.
Gerbe, 29, who played with the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes for the previous seven seasons, was battling for a spot on the fourth line and as a penalty-killer. He signed a contract with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss League in May before agreeing to a one-year, $600,000 deal with the Rangers. If he doesn’t clear waivers, he could decide to opt for Switzerland.
The forwards are returnees Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Jesper Fast and newcomers Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, Jimmy Vesey, Michael Grabner, Brandon Pirri and Josh Jooris. On defense, the returnees are captain Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath. The new faces are Nick Holden and Adam Clendening.
The average age of the 24 players is 27. According to Canada’s Globe and Mail, the average age for last season’s opening-night roster, which included Dan Boyle, Dom Moore, Jarret Stoll, Viktor Stalberg, Keith Yandle and Derick Brassard, was 28.4, the third-oldest in the NHL.