The Ottawa Senators traded Antoine Vermette to the Columbus Blue Jackets for “upper eschelon” goalie Pascal Leclaire by the NHL trade deadline yesterday afternoon.
“It’s difficult and disappointing to have to give up Vermette,” Senators general manager Bryan Murray said in a press conference yesterday.
“He’s been here for quite some time and is a good player, but the first thing we had to accomplish here is to get better in one particular area and that’s goaltending. I think we have solid guys, but to have a chance to have a top-end goaltender is a priority in any organization.”
“We talked to all of our scouts and everyone felt that Pascal was in the upper eschelon of goaltenders in the league,” Murray said.
Leclaire, who was injured, underwent surgery on his ankle recently.
While the team says farewell to Vermette, the Sens are still trying to re-sign right-winger Chris Neil.
“We like his grit, we like his size here and we like that he’s an Ottawa Senator for his career,” said Murray.
Murray said he didn’t get the right offer for Neil.
“I had several teams that had called me about him,” he said. “I had one team in particular that indicated as late as last night that they were quite interested in making a certain pitch for him, but when it got to today they didn’t do it.”
Murray said he was satisfied with yesterday, but would have liked to get one more prospect or pick.