OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators acquired goalie Pascal Leclaire and a second-round draft pick from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday for centre Antoine Vermette.
Leclaire had become expendable after losing the starting job to rookie Steve Mason. Leclaire compiled a 24-17-6 record last year with eight shutouts but underwent recent ankle surgery.
He doesn’t expect to make an appearance for the Senators until next year.
“It’s unfortunate that it comes right at the end of the season,” said Leclaire. “I doubt that I’ll play this year, but never say never.”
Even still, he’s excited about the opportunity to join the Senators.
“It’s a great challenge for me,” said Leclaire. “I’ve been hearing rumours all week and kind of reading about the chance to come to Ottawa.
“When it happens, it’s still a little bit of a shock – you never expect to get traded, but at the same time I’m pretty excited to coming into Ottawa.”
In Vermette, the Blue Jackets land a centre who’s expected to move on to the club’s No. 1 line between wingers Kristian Huselius and Rick Nash.
He had spent his entire career with the Senators and had mixed emotions about leaving.
“It’s not an easy thing,” said Vermette. “It’s not something you’re used to. No matter all the times you’ve heard your names mentioned in the rumours the last couple of years, it doesn’t make you 100 per cent prepared for that situation.”
The 26-year-old said goodbye to his Senators teammates before practice on Wednesday morning. He was then looking forward to joining a team in the thick of a playoff chase.
“I don’t think it’s kicked in yet,” said Vermette. “I’ve got to see it as a good opportunity on my side and look forward to joining these guys. …
“I’m going to miss Ottawa.”