We have a trade to announce: Jackets send Vermette to Phoenix for picks and McElhinney

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The Columbus Blue Jackets have unloaded a sizeable contract, trading center Antoine Vermette to Phoenix for a 2012 second-round pick, a conditional 2013 fifth-rounder, and 28-year-old goalie Curtis McElhinney, who had abdominal surgery in January after spending most of the season in the AHL.

Vermette, 29, is signed until 2014-15 with a cap hit of $3.75 million. Like most of the Jackets, he’s underachieved this season, scoring just eight times in 60 games. In 2009-10, Vermette had a career-high 27 goals with 38 assists.

For the potentially (if not likely) playoff-bound Coyotes, the trade nets them a proven two-way center that went to the Cup finals in 2007 with the Sens and should theoretically fit the team’s style. Plus they didn’t have to give up a roster player.

For the Jackets, it nets them cap space. And if Jeff Carter is eventually traded as well, it leaves a more prominent role for their two young centers, Derick Brassard and Ryan Johansen.

“This is moving forward,” Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson told the Columbus Dispatch. “We have to move forward. It wasn’t working this season as we expected. We’re going to move forward and this is part of the process of reshaping the team.”

Howson added: “This gives us more flexibility. It’s never fun trading anybody. I don’t think any GM enjoys that. But this is about us moving the team forward.”

In conclusion, the Jackets are moving forward.