Thursday, November 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Flyers deal Hartnell for Umberger

The Flyers gained speed and shed some long-term salary obligations when they acquired R.J. Umberger and sent Scott Hartnell to Columbus on Monday.

Flyers deal Hartnell for Umberger

R.J. Umberger (left) and Scott Hartnell (right). (Getty Images file photos)
R.J. Umberger (left) and Scott Hartnell (right). (Getty Images file photos)

The Flyers gained speed and shed some long-term salary obligations when they acquired R.J. Umberger and sent Scott Hartnell to Columbus on Monday.

The deal of 32-year-old wingers was the first made by new Flyers general manager Ron Hextall, who also acquired a fourth-round draft pick in 2015.

Umberger, who started his career with the Flyers, had 18 goals and 16 assists last season, helping the Blue Jackets return to the playoffs after a four-year absence.

"I feel I have a lot left in the tank," said Umberger, who added that his speed times last season were the fastest of his career.

Meanwhile, Hartnell admitted he was "shocked" and angry when he received a call from Hextall five days ago, saying he had a few teams inquiring about him and he wanted to know if he would waive his no-trade clause.

"I loved my time in Philadelphia. I don't think I ever wanted to leave Philadelphia," he said. "My best buddy in hockey is Kimmo (Timonen), and I played almost 1,000 games with him."

But as the days went by, Hartnell said he felt unwanted by the Flyers. He said they "basically said I was done there."

Hartnell, who spent seven mostly productive seasons with the Flyers, said Hextall had a "different vision of the club" and that he felt "wanted" by the Blue Jackets.

That, he said, is why he ultimately decided to waive his no-trade clause.

"It was pretty clear that a team that wants you is a better place than a team that doesn't want you," said Hartnell, adding he consulted with former Flyer Jody Shelley, now a Columbus broadcaster, before approving the deal.

Umberger got less playing time as last season progressed, and he said he sensed that the Blue Jackets were going with youth and that he would be dealt.

"I think I have a lot to give and still consider myself pretty young," he said.

Hartnell, playing primarily on the top line, had 20 goals and 32 assists last season.

The Flyers gained some long-term salary flexibility. Hartnell had five years remaining on his contract, with a cap hit of $4.75 million per season. Umberger has three years left, at $4.6 million per year. Hextall confirmed that the Flyers did not retain payment of any portion of Hartnell's salary.

Hextall said the Flyers are comfortable playing Umberger on the top line or the checking unit _ or any line in between.

'He can play up or down the lineup, and that's one of the things that attracted us to him," he said.

Added Hextall: "We wanted to get quicker up front."

Flyers coach Craig Berube called Umberger a "versatile guy who can play all positions. He's a good penalty killer who skates well."

Hextall saluted Hartnell for all he had done for the organization _ on and off the ice.

In seven seasons with the Flyers, Hartnell had 157 goals and 326 points in 517 games. He was known for his charitable work in the area, and raised countless dollars with his #HartnellDown Foundation. Hartnell said his best memory was the Flyers' surprising run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010, and later playing alongside Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr.

With Hartnell traded, Wayne Simmonds is the favorite to assume his alternate captain role.

As for Umberger, he was dealt from the Flyers to Columbus in a 2008 deal for first- (Luca Sbisa) and third-round (Marc-Andre Bourdon) draft picks. The Flyers also gave the Blue Jackets a fourth-rounder.

In the 2008 playoffs, Umberger had 10 goals and five assists to help the Flyers reach the conference finals.

B. Schenn signs. Center Brayden Schenn, a restricted free agent, signed a two-year deal that will pay him $2.5 million per season. He may take Hartnell's spot on the first power-play unit.

Hextall said Schenn, Umberger, Vinny Lecavalier, and Michael Raffl were among the candidates to be the top-line left winger.

That is, if he doesn't make another deal or sign a free agent.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull. 

Sam Carchidi Inquirer Staff Writer
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Sam Carchidi Inquirer Staff Writer
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