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The Blue Jackets took the first significant step toward reshaping their roster this afternoon.
In a trade that was announced just after lunch time on Wednesday, the Blue Jackets acquired a second-round draft pick (2012), a conditional fifth-round pick (2013) and goaltender Curtis McElhinney from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for center Antoine Vermette.
"We are in the process of moving forward and re-shaping our team." - Executive Vice President and General Manager Scott Howson
Blue Jackets Executive Vice President and General Manager Scott Howson made it clear that as the NHL trade deadline approaches, his focus is to obtain assets that will help shape the team now and in the near future. With a pair of draft picks in tow, he feels the Blue Jackets are beginning to build that foundation.
“We are in the process of moving forward and re-shaping our team,” Howson said in a statement. “The acquisition of these draft picks provides us with future assets that will give us more flexibility towards that end over the coming weeks and months.”
As part of the trade, McElhinney was traded to the Blue Jackets to assist the Coyotes in getting down to the 50-contract maximum permitted by the NHL. McElhinney, 28, is currently recovering from an injury and will remain with the AHL’s Portland Pirates through the end of the season. He is not expected to play this season, and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Howson acknowledged that with all trades, there is a business side and a human side. Vermette and his wife Karen have been a visible and impactful off-ice presence in the central Ohio community, and actively involved with the Blue Jackets Foundation.
“Antoine is a great person and we appreciate his contributions to our team and those of him and his wife, Karen, in the community over the past three years,” Howson added.
Speaking exclusively with BlueJackets.com and Jackets TV today, Vermette said no move can come as a surprise at this time of year, but he will take fond memories of his time in Columbus to the next stop in his career.
“It’s always a shock because it’s a big change,” Vermette said. “At the same time, you’re not really surprised because there’s been a lot of talk around the team. You try to prepare yourself as best you can, but when it happens, it’s a shock.”
Whenever change happens, the off-ice implications make it most difficult to say goodbye, Vermette said.
“We met some quality people off the ice in the organization,” Vermette said. “It’s the tough part of our job – you meet some friends with the team, but you have to deal with it. That’s the way it works.”