Thomas Vanek is headed to the Florida Panthers, who added some offensive punch on trade-deadline day in an effort to get back to the playoffs for a second straight season.
Vanek was sent to Florida by the Detroit Red Wings, in exchange for defenseman Dylan McIlrath and a conditional third-round draft pick, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither team had yet to publicly confirm the terms.
But Vanek knew he was on the move, even before the final paperwork was all set.
"I'm excited to go to Florida now and help those guys make a push," Vanek told NHL Network.
Vanek had a team-leading 15 goals for the Red Wings this season, along with 23 assists. It's a big move for Panthers president Dale Tallon, who not only adds a proven scorer in Vanek — with 331 goals in his career — but also a veteran of 63 postseason games.
He's used to being on the move by now: Florida becomes his sixth different team since the start of the 2013-14 season. Just in that span alone, he spent time with Buffalo, the New York Islanders, Montreal, Minnesota and Detroit — and now is packing yet again to join the Panthers, who have managed just 10 goals in regulation in their last five games.
"Is it fun to move around? It certainly isn't," Vanek said. "But anywhere you go, the guys are the same. They're all good people. They make you feel welcome ... and I'm sure this will be the same."
Vanek was bought out by Minnesota after last season and signed a $2.6 million, one-year deal with Detroit. Vanek expressed hope of staying with the Red Wings, though acknowledged he understands the business side of hockey.
He now gets to be a teammate of Jaromir Jagr, and Vanek sounds eager for that.
"I've met him in passing," Vanek said. "Him and Mario (Lemieux) actually were my idols growing up, and to be on a team with him will be amazing for me."