By Ian Palmer
The Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers pulled off the biggest trade of the current NHL offseason so far when the Blue Jackets sent forward R.J. Umberger to Philadelphia for forward Scott Hartnell on June 23. The Flyers will also receive a fourth-round selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft as part of the deal. Umberger played his first three NHL seasons with Philadelphia before being traded for a pair of draft picks to Columbus in 2008.
The 32-year-old left-winger played 74 games for Columbus last season and racked up 34 points on 18 goals and 16 assists. The 32-year-old Hartnell, who’s also a left-winger, scored 20 goals and added 30 assists last season for 52 points in contests. Flyers head coach Craig Berube said Umberger is a versatile player who can play all positions. He added that Umberger is a veteran player who knows how to kill penalties, can skate well, and is experienced in all areas of the game. Berube remarked that Umberger will be used in many different situations with the Flyers next season.
The native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has played 673 career regular-season games over his nine-year NHL career so far. He’s scored a minimum of 20 goals in five of those seasons and has a total of 169 goals and 197 assists for 366 points. He’s also played in 30 playoff games and has 14 goals and six assists for 20 points in them. Umberger has three years to go on his current contract which will cost the Flyers $4.6 million per season against the salary cap.
Hartnell of Regina, Saskatchewan, has spent the last seven seasons with the Flyers and managed to score at least 20 goals in five of them. His best offensive total came in the 2011/12 campaign when he found the back of the net 37 times. Jarmo Kekalainen, the manager of the Blue Jackets, said Hartnell is exactly the type of player the club has been looking for. He said Hartnell brings plenty of talent, toughness, experience, skill, and work ethic to the squad. The GM added that his leadership skills on and off the ice will prove to be very valuable to the team’s younger players.
Hartnell signed a new $28.5 million six-year contract with Philadelphia just over a year ago and there’s still five years remaining on it. His annual salary comes in at $4.75 and he waived his no-trade clause in the contract so the move to Columbus could be made. Hartnell began his NHL career with the Nashville Predators and has now played 953 career regular-season games. He’s scored 250 goals and added 287 assists for 537 points. Hartnell has also appeared in 91 postseason games with 19 goals 28 assists to his name for 47 points.