The 33-year-old Austrian has 38 points in 48 games this season, including five power play goals. He averages just over 14 and a half minutes of ice time a game.
The Panthers will like Vanek because he adds veteran presence and yet is somehow not the oldest guy on the roster. He’s also sizable and can put the puck in the net semi-regularly.
Among his more refined abilities is his shot-tipping, so the Panthers will look to create some real estate in front of the opposing goal. He’s also a versatile player and can slip in at either side of centre.
The downside is that Vanek isn’t the best skater in the National Hockey League and he can have trouble getting back into position.
“We think we’re a good enough team,” Florida general manager Dale Tallon said. “Adding Thomas, I think, makes us a legitimate team to get into the playoffs first. I think he’ll help us do that. I think the players will like Thomas; he’s a good guy, been a mentor and a real solid citizen in Detroit this year, played very well, and he’s playing for a contract, so it’s all positive.”
In 865 career games with the Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, and Buffalo Sabres, Vanek has 331 goals and 356 assists.
His best season came in 2006-2007 in Buffalo when he posted 84 points in 82 games, including 43 goals.
The Red Wings are retaining half of Vanek’s salary in the deal, which highlights the fact that financial details still matter in today’s NHL. Obviously.
24-year-old McIlrath has seen action in just six games this season and has a goal to show for himself. He’s got 43 games of career NHL experience with the New York Rangers and Panthers and a total of five points.
More to come…