It’s the day after the Blue Jackets delivered R.J. Umberger and a 2015 4th round NHL Draft pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for Scott Hartnell. If you are shocked by this trade, don’t be. The Blue
Jackets have been wheeling-and-dealing players around since Jarmo Kekalainen took control as GM. Since Mr.Kekalainen took over, he has brought in Nathan Horton, dished Marián Gáborík to Los Angeles, and got the Blue Jackets the players needed to make the playoffs.
Kekalainen knows what to look for when getting players. In the time he spent with the St.Louis Blues, he was able to bring in David Backes and T.J. Oshie. While at the Ottawa Senators, Jason Spezza and Marian Hossa came into the organization under the watchful eyes of Kekalainen. By bringing in Hartnell, Kekalainen saw something he liked, and was willing to part ways with Umberger — who went to Ohio State University in Columbus, OH.
From a business position, the deal made sense. If the Blue Jackets didn’t trade Umberger, they would’ve burned one of their compliance buyouts.
Additonally, there were numbers to equate on the books. The amount of cap space that Umberger would’ve cost, and the amount Hartnell signed for.
Basically the price ranges were comparable between Hartnell and Umberger. From a statistical perspective, Hartnell is better then Umberger. In the past two seasons, Hartnell has 63 points; Umberger has 52. Hartnell reached his point total in 110 games, while it took Umberger 122.
It should also be noted that both players are the same age. If you’re looking for a better long term positive yield, then Hartnell appears to be the clear winner. But what caused Hartnell to wave his NMC (Non-movment clause) in Philadelphia, and make him want to come to Columbus?
If the Flyer organization felt that Hartnell’s time with them was drawing close — even after an extension was just signed, then dealing him would make more sense than keeping him and not really needing him. Whatever the problem was between Hartnell and the Flyers was enough for Hartnell to wave his NMC in order to go to Columbus. It should be noted that Hartnell has a NMC in his contract with the Blue Jackets.
Now comes the intriguing part for the Blue Jackets. They’ve got roughly $22 million in cap space to play with this offseason. Depending on what happens with Ryan Johansen, the Blue Jackets could add to their arsenal. By bringing in Hartnell, the Blue Jackets have made it known that they want to be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference. If you’re a free agent that wants to go to a committed winner, Columbus becomes a vary viable option. If you didn’t believe it in the Rick Nash trade, or in the Nathan Horton signing, then believe it with Hartnell coming to the Blue Jackets. In a short time span, the Blue Jackets have regrouped as an organization and are making a push for a deep playoff run. The key producers are coming back (Artem Anisimov, Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky, and Mark Letestu) for another season.
For Umberger, he goes back to the place where he started his NHL career. In addition to going back to the Flyers, Umberger reunites with former Blue Jackets teammate Jakub Voracek. Who knows at how well this trade will go; the tests of time will dictate how each team faired. But for right now, Hartnell takes off the orange Flyers sweater with the sewn on ‘A’ for a Blue Jackets sweater. The move brings Hartnell’s Flyer career to a close, and opens the door for a Blue Jackets career that looks to be equally, if not brighter, than his Flyer days.
For Blue Jacket backers, the overwhelming angst for the season to start is real, and in a good way. No longer are the Blue Jackets cellar dwellers of the division; they are now amongst the conversation to be a real contender in the Eastern Conference, and with one or two more acquisitions, could be a real contender to hoist the Stanley Cup trophy inside Nationwide Arena.
However, the season begins in 4 months, and the offseason is just underway. Who knows, maybe the Blue Jackets will make that one big free agent deal, or signs the sleeper pick in the NHL Draft. Regardless, there are good reasons to be joyous if you’re a Blue Jackets supporter. The Hartnell-Umberger trade is one of those reasons.