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The Rangers got their roster down to 24 players Friday by waiving Tanner Glass and Nathan Gerbe for the purpose of assigning them to Hartford (AHL).
They also have an intriguing situation with prospect Cristoval “Boo” Nieves, who was assigned to Hartford Friday (along with goalie Magnus Hellberg, who cleared waivers).
Nieves, a big center who has become an excellent skater, was injured last month in the Traverse City prospects tournament – in which he excelled before being hurt. The “upper body” injury kept him out of the Rangers’ first five preseason games and much of training camp, and he was able to return, and impress, in Thursday’s finale against Philadelphia.
“I saw a big strong skating centerman that hadn’t barely played in the last two weeks,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “I liked some of the things that he did.”
Vigneault said the Rangers wanted Nieves to go play a couple of games this weekend in Hartford – where he will be no doubt monitored by the front office – and made it sound that it is very possible Nieves could be back with the big club if he plays well there.
With Gerbe being cut, Josh Jooris is the presumed fourth-line opening-night center unless Nieves wins that job. Jooris suffered a groin injury in the first preseason game and didn’t return until Thursday. He was signed to be a penalty killer, and hardly stood out in those situations.
“I thought he tried hard,” Vigneault said about Jooris’s performance against the Flyers.
For Nieves to be recalled, the Rangers will have to make another roster move. They are at 24 players, one over the maximum, at the moment, though Oscar Lindberg (hoping to return from hip surgery in November) will surely start the season on injured reserve. The Rangers must be cap-compliant with a 23-man (maximum) roster by Tuesday, though they could still make changes before and after Thursday’s regular-season opener against the Islanders at the Garden.
The moves Friday gives the Rangers a shade over $2 million in cap space and the flexibility to keep two extra defensemen, presumably Adam Clendening and Dylan McIlrath, and an extra forward.
Both Glass and Gerbe will first have to clear waivers by Saturday at noon to be assigned to Hartford. Glass’s assignment will provide a savings of $950,000 against the salary cap (they are hit with $500,000 of his $1.45 million). He is in the final season of a three-year contract.
Glass also cleared waivers and started last season in Hartford because the Rangers were forced to keep Oscar Lindberg and Dylan McIlrath or face the probability of losing them to waivers.
Gerbe, according to reports, has an out-clause in the contract he signed July 1 which would allow him to play in Switzerland instead of Hartford.
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