Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik has been claimed off waivers by the New York Rangers

The 38-year-old was placed on waivers on Tuesday and had 24 hours to either clear and remain with the organization or be picked up by another team. The Rangers lost defenseman Marc Staal to an eye injury in Tuesday night’s game after he was struck in the face with a puck. It is not known how serious that injury is, but for now Staal is reportedly out indefinitely.

Hamrlik is in the second year of a two-year, $7 million contract that has an annual salary-cap hit of $3.5 million. He had appeared in just four games out of 20 with Washington before being placed on waivers. He has one assist on the season. The Rangers assume the remaining portion of Hamrlik’s contract – though Washington was in no danger of nearing the salary-cap ceiling of $70.2 million. This move was all about roster numbers and not financial numbers.

“He still feels he can play, and he can play,” Caps coach Adam Oates told reporters before Tuesday’s game against the Boston Bruins. “It’s been a numbers game here, and that’s all it is.”

Hamrlik last played on Feb. 7 in a loss at Pittsburgh. He also appeared in the first three games of the season. But with the re-emergence of defenseman Tom Poti, an unexpectedly healthy arrival at training camp in January after the lockout ended, and Oates’ preference for balanced shooting left-right defensive pairings, Hamrlik hadn’t had a chance to crack the lineup again. Even after an injury to Mike Green (groin), rookie Tomas Kundratek has been given greater ice time. The writing was on the wall when Washington chose to sign and recall AHL Hershey defenseman Steve Oleksy on Monday and played him ahead of both Hamrlik and Jeff Schultz.

Defenseman Jack Hillen continues to work his way back from a shoulder injury suffered in the season opener against Tampa Bay and the team likes prospect Cam Schilling, who remains in Hershey. According to the Patriot News, it is also possible that Hershey defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who has missed the last three months with an upper-body injury, could travel with the Bears as soon as this weekend’s road trip to Norfolk. He played 60 games in Washington as a rookie in 2011-12.

Hamrlik won’t have to wait long to see the Caps again. He and the Rangers play at Verizon Center this Sunday. Now in his 20th NHL season, the Czech Republic native is headed to his seventh different NHL team.

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