Nathan Gerbe

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Kevin Klein (back spasms) uncertain for Rangers’ season-opener

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New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein is dealing with back spasms and is uncertain to play in Thursday’s regular-season opener against the Islanders at MSG.

Klein has missed the last two days of practice due to the spasms. His injury comes amid speculation that the club may be looking to trade Dylan McIlrath, who like Klein is a right-shot d-man.

With Klein’s status up in the air, head coach Alain Vigneault does not expect any roster moves for now. The Rangers are currently carrying eight defensemen, including Klein.

Also today came word that veteran winger Nathan Gerbe would not be reporting to the AHL. Gerbe’s one-year contract, signed on July 1, will reportedly be terminated by mutual agreement and he will play in Switzerland this season.

Gerbe was placed on waivers last week.

Rangers waive Glass and Gerbe, opening-night roster appears to be set

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The New York Rangers put a couple of veteran forwards, Tanner Glass and Nathan Gerbe, on waivers today, presumably to send them to the AHL should they clear.

Glass, 32, had just four goals in 57 games last season, while struggling badly in terms of possession. He has one year left on his contract, at a cap hit of $1.45 million. (His cap hit will be reduced to $500,000 while he’s in the minors.)

Gerbe, 29, was signed to a one-year, $600,000 deal on July 1. But the addition of Jimmy Vesey in August didn’t help Gerbe’s chances of making the opening-night roster.

The Rangers are now down to 24 players, and that includes Oscar Lindberg, who will reportedly start on injured reserve after having offseason hip surgery.

So in reality, the Rangers have made all the cuts they need to make. They start the regular season Thursday at home to the Islanders. They finished their preseason schedule with a record of 2-2-2.

Related: Pavel Buchnevich is looking to make the leap

Rangers release Maxim Lapierre from PTO

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After spending the 2015-16 season playing in Sweden and Switzerland, Maxim Lapierre was in New York Rangers training camp this year on a professional tryout contract.

On Wednesday, he was one of the roster cuts as the team begins to assemble its roster for the start of the 2016-17 season when he was released from his PTO.

Lapierre, now 31, last played in the NHL during the 2014-15 season when he split the campaign between St. Louis and Pittsburgh, scoring two goals to go with nine assists in 80 games.

It probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Lapierre didn’t make the Rangers roster. While their defense is littered with question marks, they have a pretty deep group of forwards that they strengthened over the summer with the signings of Michael Grabner, Brandon Pirri, Nathan Gerbe, and Jimmy Vesey. There is also rookie forward Pavel Buchnevich that figures to play a prominent role this season, as well as the addition of Mika Zibanejad from from the Ottawa Senators. Adding those guys to a lineup that already has Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider and you have the makings of a pretty formidable group of forwards that was going to be tough to get into.

Even though Lapierre is a bit of a pest and brings the toughness and grit that some teams still value on their fourth line, there were simply more players ahead of him that can bring more to the team.

Brandon Pirri makes Rangers’ offense so deep, a trade may be needed

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Want to make your brain hurt a little? Try to narrow down the New York Rangers’ forward group to a mere 12 after the whip-smart signing of Brandon Pirri became official.

To start, you have the obvious guys: Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. Then you add new arrivals in Pirri, Jimmy Vesey, Nathan Gerbe, Michael Grabner and Josh Jooris.

The list above includes 12 mostly-viable options and we haven’t even discussed the likes of Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast and fringe types such as Tanner Glass.

Throw in prospects such as Pavel Buchnevich and Marek Hrivik and … well, it sure becomes such a strength that things feel pretty crowded after some reflection.

Blueshirt Banter makes a strong case that something has to give; they believe that Pirri’s signing points to a possible trade. Maybe even a significant, multi-part one:

And this is where things get interesting. The Rangers are still floating around the Kevin Shattenkirk rumors, and the persistent Rick Nash speculation isn’t going anywhere, either.

It’s something that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman apparently pointed to.

Well, isn’t that interesting.

General Fanager puts the Rangers’ jam-packed roster about $1.4 million under the salary cap ceiling as of this moment.

With that in mind, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton probably isn’t in a desperate situation to move someone – whether it be a big name such as Nash or not – but New York might amass enough forward pieces to jar a quality defenseman loose

Even as is, the team sure looks more formidable now than it did entering the off-season. Forward depth was one of the strengths of the group that made it to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final (recall useful supporting cast members including Benoit Pouliot), so maybe Alain Vigneault would really excel with another deep group?

Vacation-mode is just about over, so perhaps the Rangers have something interesting up their sleeves? It’s a reasonable question to ask.

Report: Rangers close to inking Pirri

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One of the most intriguing UFAs left on the open market has reportedly found a new home.

Brandon Pirri, the 25-year-old forward that’s scored 36 goals over the last two seasons, is set to join the Rangers on a one-year, $1.1 million deal, per Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Taken 59th overall by Chicago in 2009, Pirri’s always been high on offensive ability and shown a consistent knack for finding the back of the net, even with limited opportunities.

In ’13-14, he scored 13 times despite only appearing in 49 games.

In ’14-15, he scored 22 times despite only appearing in 49 games.

(This is not a typo. For some reason he hit that 49 game mark with regularity.)

Last year, Pirri had 11 goals in 52 contests before the Panthers flipped him to Anaheim. He proceeded to score three goals and five points in nine games as a Duck — missing a good chunk of time with a serious ankle injury — but failed to crack the lineup during an opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.

In New York, Pirri will be part of a remodeled forward group that includes GM Jeff Gorton’s other pickups this summer: Jimmy Vesey, Michael Grabner, Josh Jooris and Nathan Gerbe.

The group also got a new look via trade, as Gorton flipped Derick Brassard to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad.