R.J. Umberger made one of the best plays in franchise history just a few short weeks ago, a couple of games after being a healthy scratch multiple times to end the regular season. It was not the sexiest of plays, however in overtime of Game 4 against Pittsburgh, he blocked a shot then fed Nick Foligno and we all know the rest. Skip ahead 2 weeks, news comes out that Umberger has requested a trade and the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to try to grant his request.
So what does this mean for the Columbus Blue Jackets? Can they parlay R.J. Umberger into a new brick, while still hopefully giving Umberger a chance to go somewhere meaningful? Will this mean that they will not be using any amnesty buyouts on a player this summer? Will this turn into another Marian Gaborik situation, where the fans feel underwhelmed with the return received by Jarmo Kekalainen and crew? Will replacing R.J. Umberger and his salary give the Blue Jackets a chance to get younger, faster and more skilled?
I think that pairing Umberger with our 2014 1st round pick could be the best option for the Columbus Blue Jackets getting a quality piece back in this deal. It by no means will be a haul, but it could mean receiving a 2nd pair defenseman that could add quality depth to our blue line. Or maybe a young winger that can duplicate Umberger’s production from last year.
If R.J. does indeed get traded, that should in my mind end any talk of an amnesty buyout this summer. The only other name that could/should be mentioned is James Wisniewski, however he is our leading scorer on the blue line, and is getting way too much heat for a below average showing in this April’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Wiz is a quality piece of the puzzle, and I can see him more than making up for his absence this Spring with a great 2014-15.
I remember waiting, March 5th to see where Marian Gaborik was going to be traded, hearing all the banter on who the Blue Jackets would get in return. Then we found out, and as a fan base the resounding sentiment was a feeling of frustration and disappointment. We were not trading the Gaborik that has shown up these playoffs, he was coming off of 2 long injuries, but this fan base expected a lot more back considering what we parted with a year earlier to bring him to Columbus.
Trading R.J. Umberger will shore up $4.6 million a year through the 2016-17 season, as well as give the Blue Jackets the option to be movers and shakers again this free agency season, no matter how he leaves. If they are underwhelmed by teams offers and do not receive much in return, or if they find no dance partner and have to buyout R.J., it will give the team some options come free agency. Maybe a Ryan Callahan deal makes sense, possibly a Devin Setoguchi, that is if he can return to his San Jose Sharks form. All I know is, this move could clear up a lot of cap room and could make the Columbus Blue Jackets dangerous come free agency time.
R.J. Umberger’s trade request came as a surprise to a lot of Blue Jacket fans, this one in general, but if Jarmo Kekalainen can make both sides happy I think that would make a lot of Blue Jacket fans satisfied. I know one thing, this should make for an interesting sub plot to the offseason.