By David Dwork

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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers were not expected to be big players at the NHL Trade Deadline.

In the weeks leading up to the big day, both President of Hockey Operations Dale Tallon and General Manager/Interim Head Coach Tom Rowe have downplayed the Panthers’ need to acquire much help for a playoff run.

Part of that was due to Florida winning five straight games, all on the road, in impressive fashion, but surely another part was to remain below the radar.

That became clear on Wednesday when the Panthers made the first big move of deadline day, snagging offensive forward Thomas Vanek from the Detroit Red Wings.

Vanek, 33, led the Wings with 15 goals and has 38 points and a plus-2 rating in 48 games this season.

“Thomas is a proven scorer in this league who will add some offensive savvy and experience to our young group of forwards,” said Tallon. “We believe strongly in our group and we’re confident that he will help our power play and supplement our core effectively.”

In the deal, Florida sends a 2017 3rd round pick and defenseman Dylan McIlrath back to Detroit.

The pick is conditional, as Detroit will get Arizona’s 3rd round pick instead of Florida’s should the Panthers made the playoffs.  That pick was acquired by Florida in the trade that sent Dave Bolland and Lawson Crouse to the Coyotes.

“Detroit saw the potential in me,” Vanek told NHL Network following the trade. “It was a good fit and I enjoyed my time there. It’s a great culture. I’ll remember it forever and am excited for Florida now and try to help them make a push.’

Detroit will also pay 50% of Vanek’s remaining salary for this season.  He will be a unrestricted free agent this summer.

Vanek is expected to meet the Panthers in Philadelphia for their game against the Flyers on Thursday.

“Obviously I’m not the fastest player, but I feel I can read the game really well,” he said.

Florida came into Wednesday trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs by one point for the second Wild Card spot.

[graphiq id=”1EHFkAc15GJ” title=”Thomas Vanek Career Points, Goals, & Assists” width=”600″ height=”489″ url=”” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]


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