WASHINGTON (AP) — On the way out of the arena late in the third period of the New York Rangers' latest loss, Vitali Kravtsov ran into Washington Capitals forward Aliaksi Protas and told him he was heading to Vancouver.
Patrick Kane could soon be going from Chicago to New York in his place.
The Rangers on Saturday began the machinations necessary if a trade for Patrick Kane were to materialize. They traded Kravtsov to the Vancouver Canucks and put forward Jake Leschyshyn on waivers, transactions that in combination could clear the cap space to get Kane from Chicago.
Those moves happened while the Rangers were in the midst of getting drubbed 6-3 by the division rival Capitals, with the background distractions creeping into New York's play.
"I think everybody is aware of what's going on around us," captain Jacob Trouba said. "As a player, that's not something for you to worry about. Your job is to play the game and be ready to play when the puck drops."
It's unclear if Kane could be with the Rangers the next time the puck drops for them, on Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Kings, or if the wait will be longer. But it doesn't appear Kane will play again for the Blackhawks any time soon, with the 34-year-old leaving the team during its road trip.
"He has left this morning," coach Luke Richardson said in San Jose. "As as of today, he has flown back to Chicago, I think, just until the situation rectifies itself."
The situation is coming into focus after trading Kravtsov for minor leaguer William Lockwood and a 2026 seventh-round draft pick in what's essentially a salary dump. More will come off the cap Sunday when Leschyshyn is either claimed by another team or clears waivers and is sent to the minors.
Coach Gerard Gallant didn't learn of the trade until after the game and wished Kravtsov the best.
"He really worked hard and he tried this year, and we just couldn't find a spot in our lineup for him," Gallant said. "It gives him a fresh opportunity. He was a good kid here. He came and he worked hard every day with us, and it's just an opportunity for our team."
An injury to defenseman Ryan Lindgren during the game also could make room for Kane. Lindgren took a hard hit into the boards with his left shoulder first and did not return.
"Day to day," Gallant said. "We'll know more tomorrow."
If Lindgren is expected to be out for more than 10 games and 24 days, he could be placed on long-term injured reserve. That would allow New York to move his $3 million salary off the books and perhaps hasten a trade that the NHL has been waiting for now for a few days.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno