The first real domino — of remaining dominoes — has fallen on trade deadline day.
The talking heads must be at full lather now.
In their first significant move in quite a while, the Florida Panthers acquired resurgent veteran forward Thomas Vanek from Detroit for D Dylan McIlrath (who they traded for in November) and a 2017 3rd round pick.
Vanek, a pending UFA on an affordable one year, $2.6 million contract with the Red Wings, boosted his trade stock considerably by being consistently productive this season. He had 15 goals and 23 assists in 48 games, nearly matching his production in 74 games with Minnesota in 2015-16 (41 points).
The 33-year-old Austrian’s offensive prowess will be welcome on a surging Florida team which is just one point out of a playoff spot as of Wednesday.
Going the other way, the Winged Wheels get a former first round pick in McIlrath (10th overall by the Rangers in 2010), who has bounced between the big league and the AHL in his five seasons of pro hockey. This season he played six games in the NHL (one with New York and five with Florida), recording a goal and a -2 rating.
The Wings, who are likely going to miss the playoffs for the first time in a quarter century, have off-loaded two veterans in the last 24 hours and may not be done yet.