As we continue to digest yesterday’s news from the Philadelphia Flyers on the trade of Scott Hartnell for R.J Umberger of the Columbus Blue Jackets, more clues are coming out on the thought process behind this trade. Ron Hextall, who had been groomed all season to take over as G.M finally assumed his role and is making an impact, with the goal of producing a Stanley Cup team just like he created in L.A. With Hextall at the reigns it seems odd that the Hartnell trade feels very Paul Holmgren reminiscent.
Claude Giroux was shocked Monday morning when he found out that Scott Hartnell was one of his former teammates. A move out of left field for the Flyers team, shocking even the captain. The trade was for R.J Umberger, a player with some similarities to Hartnell, those similarities include age, goals last season, cap hit and experience they could bring to a team. Where Hartnell excels above other players is his commitment to the community in which he plays, he is more active in the community than any other individual player, he has been a fan favorite and a face for the Flyers.
The Columbus Blue Jackets undoubtedly are very lucky to have such a great trade on their hands and they did not have to sacrifice much. R.J Umberger doesn’t draw as much fan base but he brings an element of speed and versatility that Hextall is looking for in a player. Umberger, a former Flyer, had asked the Blue Jackets for a trade because he had been a healthy scratch down the stretch 2014-14. All signs show that Umberger is actually skating the best of his career and we can look to Craig Breube playing his in several different positions this season.
With R.J Umberger also comes a 4th round pick in the 2015 draft which is expected to be deeper than the draft happening this weekend. Hextall’s plan seems to be focused towards the long term. He is going to clean up the team, put them in a great position for a few years from now and then win the Cup. He has the vision to take the team where it needs to go and he wants to create the cap flexibility to be able to do so.
My feelings about the trade: Thinking of it from a player stand point for a minute, both teams seemingly did not want the player that they had. On an individual basis this is great for them. Hartnell is a great guy and his soul focus is on winning the Stanley Cup before his retires and the Blue Jackets are very motivated to do that, so I think this season we are going to see great things from Hartnell. The Blue Jackets have Hartnell in their winning plan and that is a perfect place for him to be. A player that is motivated by winning is the kind that you want on your team. On the other hand, Umberger was a healthy scratch for the stretch last season (2013-14) there is a reason behind that and GM Jarmo Kekalainen of the Columbus Blue Jackets might have given a hint to that when he said:
“We had a player who didn't want to play here and had asked to be moved, so that was money on the sidelines for us. Now we've got a real good player (Hartnell) and we have clarity to the situation. We know what we look like heading into these next two weeks, which makes it easier to proceed."
So was he referring to Umberger. If so, all we can hope is that the move re-energizes Umberger to want to win with the Flyers. He is seemingly in the best shape of his career so hopefully he makes that kind of impact with the team.
From a Flyers stand point this is such a bad trade. They had one of their top guys, who is a face of the team, great attitude/motivated to win, respected and looked up to by his teammates, fully committed to the Flyers and Philadelphia and they just downgraded to Umberger. That’s the business side of the game but it’s just such a sad move on their part. Hartnell was such an integral part of the team, they will not be able to find someone that can fill his skates on and off the ice. Hopefully the gamble on the 4th round pick in 2015 works out.
The Columbus Blue Jacket should be over the moon. I don’t think I am at all the bias when I make that statement. Hartnell has made the most of this situation and he is with a very motivated team. He is bringing them valuable experience and leadership. He’s motivated and wants to win a cup before he retires and when Hartnell is motivated he gets things done. The Blue Jackets came out on top in this trade.
This trade rests on the shoulders of Ron Hextall. Everyone had been wondering if Hartnell had requested this move and that was just not the case at all. Hartnell loves Philly and even in being asked to move on he is still doing what is best for the Philadelphia Flyers. I am dreading the Hextall regime already and hoping for some kind of saving grace soon like resigning Ray Emery as back- up goaltender.