The Florida Panthers made the first big move of the NHL’s final day of trading by acquiring veteran forward Thomas Vanek from the Detroit Red Wings.
Vanek, 33, has 15 goals and 38 points with the Wings this season. He has 331 career goals in parts of 12 seasons with the Sabres, Islanders, Wild and Wings.
Vanek is expected to meet the Panthers in Philadelphia and be in the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Flyers.
Although the cost wasn’t cheap — Florida gave up a third round draft pick and defenseman Dylan McIlrath (who has spent much of the year in the minors) — the Panthers gave up little for a player of Vanek’s caliber.
Detroit will pick up half of Vanek’s remaining money owed through the end of the season; by trading McIrath and having Detroit pick up his salary, the Panthers will pay Vanek just $112,000 through the end of the season.
Both players are free agents at the end of the year.
“To be on a team with [Jaromir Jagr] will be amazing,” Vanek told Canada’s Sportsnet not long after the trade came to light. “To be on the same team with him will be fun.”
Florida came into the day a point back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and four points back of Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division.
The NHL trade deadline comes at 3 p.m.