Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: the Flyers have acquired a player that used to play on their team. Cue the broken record, because the Orange-and-Black are at it again. According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus dispatch, the Flyers have acquired forward R.J. Umberger and a 4th round pick in 2015 for forward and fan-favorite Scott Hartnell.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 23, 2014
Umberger, 32, has reportedly been unhappy with his diminished role with the Blue Jackets over the past few seasons. Despite scoring 18 goals and 16 assists last season, it had become clear that the up-and-coming Blue Jackets no longer had room for him in their equation. Umberger spent his first three years in Philadelphia before heading to Columbus, where he played six seasons. He has 169 career goals and 197 assists between the two teams and will most likely play a top-nine role with Philadelphia.
The more notable aspect of this move is the departure of Hartnell. A few years removed from a career season in 2011-2012 where he tallied 37 goals and 30 assists while playing alongside Claude Giroux, Hartnell has been unable to recapture the sort of first-line output the team decided to pay him for. The 32-year-old winger still has five years and $21 million left on a deal he signed on the heels of his career year. The organization must see his $4.75 million cap hit as something they can no longer justify, given the youth of the team. Hartnell’s role went far beyond the ice, however. As an assistant captain and noted agitator, Hartnell was more than happy to play the role of pest and alleviate some of the pressure on Giroux and some of the team’s other top players. There’s no way around this one, Hartnell and his fun-loving approach to the game will be missed.
The move is by far the most notable of Ron Hextall’s short tenure and could be an indicator of the team moving in an entirely different direction. Umberger’s cap hit is not much lower than Hartnell’s at $4.6 million, though the deal only carries for another three years compared to Hartnell’s five. To be perfectly honest, though on paper this move isn’t terrible, Hartnell’s role in the locker room cannot be understated and it will be interesting to see what sort of impact his absence has. Another wild offseason appears to be in store for the Flyers, but what else is new?