UPDATE: Glass has cleared waivers and has been assigned to AHL Hartford.
In a move that they probably should have made long ago, the New York Rangers have placed winger Tanner Glass on waivers, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and TSN’s Bob McKenzie, and later confirmed by the Rangers. The primary motivation appears to be related to adding salary cap space, but the coming days should reveal the full story.
A Long-awaited Move
When the Rangers signed Glass as a free agent to a three-year contract worth an average of $1.45 million per year in the offseason of 2014, it was an immediately questionable (at best) transaction. In no way, especially in today’s NHL, is a player who contributes no offense, is a possession black hole, and whose primary skills are hitting and fighting, worth anywhere close to that big of a contract. Even in a league that had no salary cap and featured the level of physicality of yesteryear, this would be a bit of a head-scratcher.
Somehow though, Glass dressed in 66 regular season games for the Rangers last year, and ALL 19 playoff games. He contributed a grand total of one goal and five assists in the regular season, and one assist in the playoffs. He also was, as mentioned, a liability to the Rangers’ ability to possess the puck. Despite his shortcomings, head coach Alain Vigneault seemed to value the grit and toughness he brought to the table. But the fact of the matter is, those attributes alone are not enough in today’s speed- and skill-driven league, where a team’s ability to roll four effective forward lines is imperative.
Coming into this season, New York had a surplus of forwards trying to make the final roster, and it appeared that Glass would finally be the odd man out. But Vigneault and the Rangers again opted to keep him as an extra forward, along with the talented but still-maturing Emerson Etem. Glass even appeared in two of the club’s first seven games this year, replacing the far superior Jesper Fast, who may or may not have been slightly banged up.
Finally though, it appears that the Rangers have realized that Glass is not providing value on the ice (or they were unable to find a trade partner for him). He is known to be a great teammate and a great guy in the locker room, but without quality on-ice performance, the Rangers simply do not have room for him, particularly at his price tag. So the decision to waive Glass — one that should have been made last season or prior to the start of this season — finally came to fruition.
Potential Scenarios and Implications
However, just because the Rangers have waived Glass does not mean that he cannot still play with the club. First, he has to clear waivers, as any other team could claim him. That seems unlikely though, given his performance and contract. If he clears, the Rangers could opt to send him to AHL Hartford, which would reduce but not completely eliminate his salary cap hit.
If #Rangers Glass clears waivers, he could be sent to AHL, which would save $950,000 against cap. NYR would have $500,000 of dead cap space.
— Seth Rothman (@RothmanHockey) October 20, 2015
The Rangers could also wait, have Glass possibly appear in a few more games, and then waive him again.
Given the circumstances though, it certainly appears that the Rangers are looking to get back some salary cap space, as they are barely compliant with Glass’s full contract on the books. More cap space means more roster flexibility, and perhaps the team could call up Raphael Diaz as a spare defenseman. Doing so would not only give the club more depth on the blue line and a serviceable power play point man who could be plugged in, but it would also likely keep Diaz from potentially bolting to play overseas in Switzerland.
If Glass ends up in the AHL, the Rangers would still carry a dead weight cap hit of $500,000, as noted in the Tweet above. That said, when considering that Glass has not been a regular in the lineup so far this season and does not contribute meaningfully when he does play, the cost of that penalty is far exceeded by the benefit of adding back $950,000 in cap space.
The next few days should provide more clarity with respect to what the Rangers ultimately end up doing here. It’s an unfortunate situation for Glass, a well-liked teammate, but from a hockey standpoint, it’s really a no-brainer for the Rangers.