Rangers can still get Patrick Kane with this Vitali Kravtsov move

The Rangers filled a top-six hole with the Feb. 9 acquisition of Vladimir Tarasenko from the Blues and then enhanced the fourth line with Sunday’s reacquisition of Tyler Motte from the Senators.

But in a powerhouse Eastern Conference that will become more of a gauntlet if either the Devils or ‘Canes come away with the Sharks’ Timo Meier, it still seems as if the Blueshirts could still be a piece shy — and without the necessary cap space to be able to make another substantial addition.

GM Chris Drury will have a projected $909,000 at the deadline with which to work, and if you know anything, $909,000 just doesn’t go as far as it used to. Even a 50 percent retention on the other end wouldn’t clear enough space to make another splash.

But what if the Blueshirts could add another $2 million of deadline space with the click of a computer key? What if the Rangers could still find a way to land Patrick Kane?

What if the Rangers could present a top six of Kane, Tarasenko, Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider and Vincent Trocheck on top of the Kids and a fourth unit that would comprise Motte, Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey?

What if they could set themselves up for that by waiving Vitali Kravtsov?

Well, they could.

After more than a week of the hierarchy dangling Kravtsov, calling interest in No. 74 “soft” would represent the overstatement of the year. There appears to be no interest at all in the 23-year-old winger.

I find it somewhat strange that none of the teams out of playoff contention would take a flier on this talented Russian, but we’re told that that there is fear that Kravtsov, a pending restricted free agent, will return to the KHL next season.

A week ago, upon confirming that Kravtsov had asked to be moved, I wrote that it would be a mistake to deal him for a fourth-line rental and that the GM should require more value in return for the ninth-overall selection of the 2018 draft. I wrote too soon.

There is still a way for the Rangers to trade for Patrick Kane (88).
There is still a way for the Rangers to trade for Patrick Kane (88).

Because without a market, Kravtsov — scratched for fifth straight game and ninth time in the last 10 for Monday’s Garden match against Winnipeg — is now costing the Rangers cap space and a roster spot. And his continued presence on the roster is preventing Drury from more big-game hunting.

According to CapFriendly, subtracting Kravtsov from the roster on Wednesday would add just under another $2 million in deadline capital. That would apply if the Blueshirts place No. 74 on waivers Tuesday, regardless of whether he is claimed or clears.

Making like the stand-in President Bill Mitchell at the cabinet meeting in the movie, “Dave,” you take that, add it to the original $909,000, that gives you around $2.9 million, you get the Blackhawks to retain half of Kane’s $10.5 million cap hit, you get another team to take half of the resulting $5.25 million and voila, Kane’s ultimate cap charge becomes $2.625 million that fits and welcome to Broadway, No. 88.

The Rangers have received little trade interest in Vitali Kravtsov (74).
The Rangers have received little trade interest in Vitali Kravtsov (74).
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

Now, there are a lot of hoops through which Drury and the Rangers would have to jump in order to make this happen. Kane, who recorded a hat trick on Sunday against a Toronto team that is believed interested in acquiring him, has not waived his no-move, though he has given a pretty decent indication he would do so if that would bring him to Isle of Manhattan.

Then, of course, there are the assets the Rangers would have to sacrifice in order to get this done. There is absolutely zero appetite within the hierarchy to move the club’s remaining first-rounder in this year’s draft, and the same hands-off edict will apply to Brennan Othmann, Will Cuylle and the club’s blue-chippers.

It would be a challenge to get it done, though if Kane — audibly disappointed upon learning that the Blueshirts had acquired Tarasenko — tells Chicago he would waive the no-move only for a trade to the Rangers, the cost could become manageable.

Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane
Getty Images

You don’t have to tell me that this is kind of message-board or talk-radio stuff. A clickbait headline could read, “Rangers Can Trade Kravtsov for Kane.” I have received a multitude of DMs and emails and texts in the wake of the Tarasenko deal asking whether the team could still get Kane. I have responded the same way to each of them: No.

I saw things as I thought they were and explained why, but now I am wondering, why not?

The Rangers have grown by leaps and bounds through the winter. They’ve become a very good team, fourth-overall in the NHL with a .670 percentage that translates to a second straight 110-point season. They are contenders. So are Boston, Carolina, New Jersey, Toronto and Tampa Bay, all of whom are going to add before March 3.

If Kravtsov clears, that would be a benefit in itself by putting him in the position to get consistent top-line work with the Wolf Pack. That would prepare him if the Rangers need the winger in the playoffs because of injuries.

But if claimed, it is not as if the Blueshirts would have lost him for nothing. In essence, they would have traded him for $2 million in cap space…and the chance of adding Patrick Kane.

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