Report: Blue Jackets could use buyout on Umberger if trade partner can't be found

by Jun 18, 9:12 AM

The Columbus Blue Jackets are actively shopping forward R.J. Umberger, who gave the team a list of ten teams to which he would not approve a deal, according to a limited no-trade clause in his contract.

According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets are seeking a roster player or a draft pick in return, but "the sense around the NHL is that (general manager Jarmo) Kekalainen's cell phone is showing more outgoing calls than incoming calls these days."

As a result, the team may consider using a compliance buyout on Umberger's contract if he is not traded prior to June 30, a move explained below by Portzline:

This type of buyout -- different from traditional buyouts -- does not count against a team's salary cap, but the player still gets (in Umberger's case) two-thirds of his remaining money, split over two seasons for each remaining year on the contract.

Umberger is due $4.6 million for the next three seasons. It would cost the Blue Jackets $1.55 million for the next six years. It wouldn't be off the books until 2020.

A small market team like Columbus would certainly hope to avoid this route, meaning Kekalainen and Co. will do all they can to move Umberger prior to the NHL Draft on June 27.

Jul 29, 11:29 AM

Blue Jackets' Hartnell: 'I want to win, and I want to win here'

by Jul 29, 11:29 AM

Scott Hartnell addressed the media in Columbus for the first time since being acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers back in June, and displayed a genuine excitement about becoming a significant member of an emerging team like the Blue Jackets.

The 32-year-old, who said he believed he would retire a Flyer, stated it didn't take long for him to come around on the idea of being traded to Columbus. 

"It wasn't a tough sell at all," he said. "I'm real excited about coming in here and being a leader."

Hartnell, who pointed to players like Ryan Johansen and Nathan Horton (hurt much of last season), added he feels Columbus is well positioned for success: "This is a great team here. I think it stacks up against anyone in the East."

In terms of his eventual return to Philadelphia in a Blue Jackets jersey, he said he will have "a lot to prove", and isn't concerned with remaining a Flyers fan favorite.

The Blue Jackets, of course, faced the Penguins in the playoffs this past season; as such, Hartnell's move from Philadelphia to Columbus is sure to spice up the Metropolitan Division even further.

The full press conference can be viewed here.

Jun 24, 7:04 PM

Scott Hartnell thanks Flyers fans after trade to Blue Jackets

by Jun 24, 7:04 PM

Scott Hartnell's time in Philadelphia came to a surprise end on Monday, when the Flyers shipped the veteran forward to the Columbus Blue Jackets for R.J. Umberger.

Hartnell signed a long-term deal with the Flyers to remain in Philadelphia not that long ago, though Hartnell does not seem to fit with the team's desire to play an up-tempo game this upcoming season, and so he was made expendable.

Hartnell was a fan favourite in his time with the Flyers, and took the time to thank the Philadelphia fans on Tuesday with a message posted to his Twitter account.

Hartnell tallied 20 goals and 52 points in 78 games for the Flyers this past season.

Jun 24, 5:21 PM

Flyers' GM Hextall says he 'wasn't shopping Hartnell'

by Jun 24, 5:21 PM

The trade between the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets that saw the Flyers re-acquire R.J. Umberger and ship Scott Hartnell to Columbus remains a head-scratcher even in the sober light of day.

According to Flyers general manager Ron Hextall, moving Hartnell wasn't something he was actively looking to do, as he told CSN Philly.

I wasn’t shopping Scott Hartnell. When I was circling around with the other managers, I said, ‘We need some cap relief here. If you can think of anything, let me know.’ Columbus ended up coming hard after Scott.

It didn’t give us a lot of cap relief, ironically. But it was a deal that I thought about for a few days before I went to Scotty’s agent because I realized he had a no-movement clause. It was a sensitive issue.

Hartnell admitted to be shocked when the deal was made, but now seems eager to join his new teammates in Columbus.

As for Hextall and the Flyers, they are looking to get faster, and while Hartnell did bring a lot to the table, speed isn't part of his package.

"The one question he asked me was, ‘When did I fall out of favor?’ I said, ‘No Hartsy, you haven’t fallen out of favor." Hextall said. "This is just something that fits for us and we want to move forward with it.’"

Jun 23, 11:02 PM

Giroux on Hartnell trade: 'I didn't believe him so I started chirping him'

by Jun 23, 11:02 PM

Claude Giroux has spent many seasons with Scott Hartnell as teammates on the Philadelphia Flyers. Hartnell was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for RJ Umberger and a fourth-round pick Monday.

Giroux didn't think Hartnell was serious when he woke up to a text from his long-time teammate.

"I woke up this morning to him texting me and saying he was gone. I didn't believe him so I started chirping him, and then I found it was true. It's sad; not a fun day."

Giroux explained his friendship with Hartnell is going to be the hardest to let go of, "I mean, obviously me and Scott were really good friends for the last few years and it [stinks] for that part of the game. I personally didn't see it coming."

Feature photo courtesy of Eric Hartline / USA Today Sports

Jun 23, 5:25 PM

Hartnell on trade to Blue Jackets: 'You want to be somewhere the team wants you and loves you'

by Jun 23, 5:25 PM

Scott Hartnell was given the news five days ago: there was a deal in the works to trade him to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for R.J. Umberger and a fourth-round pick.

Hartnell told media he was "shocked, upset" but decided it was in the best interest of the team for him to waive his no-movement clause.

Hartnell expressed he did not ask for a trade, and his teammate Claude Giroux was "utterly shocked" when he learned the news

He just wants to be loved. Don't we all?

Hartnell's main concern: winning. "I'm 32 years old," Hartnell said, via "I have a lot of money, but I want to win." 

Hartnell never wanted to leave; he loved his time in Philly, and he wants you to know that. But he's excited about the next chapter in his hockey life. 

Jun 23, 12:16 PM

Blue Jackets trade R.J. Umberger back to Flyers for Scott Hartnell

by Jun 23, 12:16 PM

The Columbus Blue Jackets promised to accommodate R.J. Umberger's trade request, and boy did they deliver. 

He is headed back to where his NHL career began as the Philadelphia Flyers agreed to send Scott Hartnell to the Blue Jackets in return for Umberger and a fourth-round pick in next year's draft. 

Umberger's departure comes as no surprise, but the return haul does. Hartnell, who agreed to waive his no-movement clause, has embodied the Flyers since coming over from Nashville seven seasons ago. 

The Flyers are no stranger to bold moves - having traded Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and James van Riemsdyk over the past three seasons - but the decision to part with Hartnell is likely to precede another as it fails to free up much cap space over the next three seasons. 

Hartnell has five years at $4.75 million remaining on his deal, while Umberger will earn $4.6 million for three more seasons.

Neither side will retain any salary, per CBC's Elliotte Friedman

For more analysis on the deal, theScore's Justin Bourne provides his take here.

Feature photo courtesy of James Guillory / USA TODAY Sports

Jun 3, 9:26 AM

Report: Blue Jackets' Umberger could be sent to Oilers for Gagner

by Jun 3, 9:26 AM

Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger has requested to be moved in the offseason, and word out of Columbus is a trade partner may be found in Edmonton.

According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, there have been discussions revolving around a deal that would see Umberger traded to the Oilers in exchange for center Sam Gagner:

It's out there, and it makes a lot of sense ... on paper. Gagner has backpedaled since a strong start of his career, and the Oilers would love to get out from under his $4.8 million cap hit and his $5 million salary the next two seasons ... [Umberger] has three years remaining at $4.6 million per season. The salary number is almost a match, but the Blue Jackets may still need to pay some of Umberger's salary to help offset the third year. That's legal under the new CBA. The Oilers want more size and grit. They could use somebody to stand in front of the net and chew up space. This could happen. 

Umberger, 32, registered 18 goals and 16 assists in 74 games for Columbus in 2013-14, while Gagner, 24, posted 10 goals and 27 assists in 67 games.

One sticking point may be Umberger's limited no-trade clause; he is set to give the Blue Jackets a list of ten teams to which he may not be traded on June 15, and it's quite possible that Edmonton will be one of those cities.

As David Staples of the Edmonton Journal notes, Umberger would fill a need for the Oilers, and while general manager Craig MacTavish "has shown an affinity for this kind of deal" (adding the likes of Andrew Ference and Matt Hendricks), it may be wiser "to turn an asset like Gagner into a player aged 21 to 25, entering into his prime years, rather than a player leaving them."

Gagner, for his part, has been linked to trade rumors for quite some time.

This particular deal would depend on Umberger's willingness to move to Alberta, which is certainly no guarantee.

May 20, 12:51 PM

Blue Jackets' Davidson discusses accommodating Umberger's trade request

by May 20, 12:51 PM

Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson appeared on 10TV's Wall To Wall Sports program on Sunday night and discussed at length Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger's exit-meeting trade request, and the club's efforts to accommodate the veteran forward. 

"If a player talks to you, as an organization, that he needs a change of scenery, you try to help him and you try to do the right thing," Davidson explained of the situation per the Blue Jackets' website. "We’ve appreciated what RJ has done for us, but it has to be something that makes sense for our club."

The 32-year old Umberger has produced offense like a sub-average top-six forward over the past five seasons and has three-years and $13.5 million in salary remaining on his contract, which carries an annual cap-hit of $4.6 million. 

Considering his age, atrophying effectiveness and the term remaining on his contract, it may prove difficult for the Blue Jackets to accommodate his trade request without retaining salary in the transaction.

May 18, 8:55 AM

Report: Blue Jackets to accommodate R.J. Umberger's trade request

by May 18, 8:55 AM

There has never been a better time to be a Columbus Blue Jacket.  

On the heels of Columbus' most successful campaign in franchise history, their 2014-15 season outlook has reached peak optimism - but that doesn't mean there isn't one disgruntled member of their budding fleet. 

Veteran forward R.J. Umberger reportedly requested a trade during his season-ending exit interview, a plea team management has agreed to accommodate according to sources of the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline

Umberger skated to his first two playoff wins in six years with the organization this season, but despite battling a myriad of injuries, Umberger was scratched per coach's decision in four late-season games. 

Trading the former Philadelphia Flyer will be a challenge for general manager Jarmo Kekalainen; Umberger has a hefty $13.8 million cap hit over three years remaining on his current deal, which also includes a limited no-trade clause kicking in June 15.