It was really nice of the Flyers to give the Blue Jackets a boost today. Rookie general manager Ron Hextall traded Scott Hartnell for RJ Umberger and a 2015 fourth round pick. Hartnell and Umberger are both 32 years old and carry cap hits of $4.7M and $4.6M, respectively. Hartnell’s contract has five years remaining whereas Umberger’s has three. Zero salary was retained by either team in the deal and Hartnell had to waive his no trade clause to be sent to Columbus, where I’m sure he will soon be traded to the Kings (jokes).
The deal makes little sense at first glance for the Flyers, other than the opening of some cap space three years from now. Hartnell is still an effective player who at least has the ability to play in the top six. The same cannot be said for RJ Umberger, who couldn’t find consistent ice time on a less offensively gifted Blue Jackets top six. The Flyers are essentially paying a third line player $4.6M a year in lieu of a player who is actually capable of playing alongside Claude Giroux.
The past three years Hartnell has a P/60 at even strength of 1.79, which puts him on par with Patrick Marleau, Milan Michalek, TJ Oshie, and Mike Cammalleri. Umberger has a P/60 in the same span of 1.3, which is comparable to Brandon Prust and Steve Ott. Hartnell has also been a positive possession player for the Flyers during that span, whereas Umberger has been possession black hole against similar strength of competition.
This possession chart is pretty grand.
Hartnell’s shooting percentage took a dip this season, which like other former Flyers, warranted a trade. Even with the extra two years on his contract, it is tough to imagine Umberger performing well enough to make this trade look good over his three years. Hartnell was once and probably still is worth his cap hit per year, Umberger never was and isn’t capable of doing so. Hence the reason the Jackets have been actively trying to move him.
I think we’re going to enjoy the Ron Hextall era.