Vitali Kravtsov of the Rangers skates against the Canadiens at Madison Square...

Vitali Kravtsov of the Rangers skates against the Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 15. Credit: Jim McIsaac

DETROIT — As the Rangers took warmups Thursday at Little Caesars Arena before the game against the Red Wings, the team announced that forwards Vitali Kravtsov and Jake Leschyshyn would “not be available to play . . . due to roster management reasons.’’

The two players were held out of the lineup presumably because the Rangers intend to trade them.

A report appearing in the New York Post on Thursday said the Rangers are attempting to trade for Chicago forward Patrick Kane, whose contract expires at the end of this season and who had been linked with the Blueshirts as far back as last summer.

When Rangers general manager Chris Drury acquired Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 9, along with defenseman Niko Mikkola, that seemed to end the chances that the Blueshirts would be going after Kane, whose $10.5 million salary-cap hit would not be a fit on the roster.

But speculation that the Rangers have interest in Kane never went away, especially after he made it clear the day after the Tarasenko trade that he had hoped to come to New York.

In order to acquire Kane, who has a full no-move clause and can dictate to Chicago management where he is willing to go, the Rangers would have to get a third team involved to help them by retaining some of the 34-year-old’s salary.

If Chicago retained half of Kane’s cap hit and a third team acquired Kane and retained half of his remaining cap hit before moving him to the Rangers, the Rangers then would be adding only a quarter of Kane’s hit — $2.625 million — to their payroll.

Even then, the Rangers, who are projected by CapFriendly to have about $908,000 in available space under the cap at the March 3 trade deadline, would have to shed multiple salaries to create room. Kravtsov, who had been scratched for nine of the last 10 games before Thursday and reportedly requested a trade, earns $875,000. Leschyshyn earns $766,667.

If the two players are placed on waivers Friday and clear waivers Saturday, they could be removed from the roster then, and the cap savings created would accrue each day up until the trade deadline.

If another team were to claim one or both of the players, that might complicate any potential deal, as the Rangers would be losing assets who might be included as part of the package used to acquire Kane or someone else.

With both forwards scratched from the lineup Thursday, defenseman Ben Harpur (scratched for the previous six games) entered the lineup as a seventh defenseman. The Rangers used 11 forwards.

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