Increasing the team’s speed up front, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said, was the main factor in trading left wing Scott Hartnell for R.J. Umberger, a versatile wing who started his career with Philadelphia but spent the last six seasons with Columbus.
“Whenever you make a deal, there’s a lot of considerations that come into the mix, but I guess the one driving the bus was quickness,” Hextall said Monday afternoon, shortly after the trade was announced. “I think if you look at R.J., he’s a versatile player. He’s a good skater. He’s a good two-way player, and he plays all three positions. He can kill penalties. So he was an attractive guy for us moving forward.”
Umberger, who was with the Flyers from 2005 to 2008, is coming off a season in which he scored 18 goals and recorded 16 assists in 74 games. He’s had five 20-goal or more seasons, the last of which came in 2011-2012. The Flyers view Umberger as a wing, Hextall said.
Hartnell scored 157 goals in seven seasons with the Flyers. In 78 games last season, he scored 20 goals and recorded 32 assists. He was scoreless with three assists in the Flyers’ seven-game, first-round playoff series loss to the Rangers.
“He’s a good hockey player. He played well for the Philadelphia Flyers and he’s going to play well in Columbus,” Hextall said. “He’s still got hockey left in him. But again, I think the versatility, the length of the contract and the speed are some of the main points that we thought about here and why we made the move. Columbus is probably looking for some leadership and a veteran player who can score goals and they got what they wanted there, too. So I think it’s a hockey trade and I think it’s a good trade for both teams.”
Both players involved in the deal are 32 years old, but Umberger has three years left on his current contract while Hartnell has five. Hartnell signed a six-year, $28.5 million extension in August of 2012. Umberger is set to make $4.6 million this season on his current deal.
In the deal, the Flyers also acquired a fourth-round pick for the 2015 draft.