With the recent announcement that R. J. Umberger will more than likely be traded by the Columbus Blue Jackets, rumors have begun circling about where he could go and who the Jackets could get for him. The biggest concerns are his age and the length of his contract. Umberger is 32 and is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2016-17 season. With that, here are a few players that are similar to Umberger, and how he compares.
One team that surfaces in many trade rumors is Philadelphia. In terms of contract length, the Flyers only have one current player whose contract is the same as Umberger’s, defenseman Mark Streit. He is signed through the 2016-17 season as well, and is 36 years old. This season he put up numbers very similar to Umberger’s. Umberger had 18 goals and 16 assists for 34 points in 74 games played, Streit had 10 assists and 34 goals for 44 points in 82 games played.
Despite the similarities, I don’t think the Jackets would be likely to make this trade. First of all, Striet’s contract is $650,000 more per year than Umberger’s. Trading him away is supposed to be a way to dump some of his salary, not pay more. Plus, the Jackets need a power forward, not a defenseman who will contribute about the same as Umberger did. Lastly. they are a young team, and I don’t think Striet would fit the Jackets’ identity. It would, however, be a trade that makes sense for the Flyers.
Given that the Jackets are likely to look for younger players in trading Umberger, a name that stands out is 21-year-old forward Sean Couturier. He is signed only through the 2015-16 season, and his current contract is only $1,750,000 compared to Umberger’s $4,600,000 a year. That’s certainly dumping some salary. This season, Couturier had 13 goals and 26 assists for 39 points in 82 games, a bit better than Umberger, but the major difference is that he has a lot more room to develop. Being only 21, Couturier is still a young player, which means he can be expected to grow as a player in the coming years, where that is unlikely with Umberger.
Now, I’m not saying Philadelphia will be likely to let him go. This trade would almost certainly be one that benefits Columbus more than Philly, but it’s something to consider. It’s a trade I’d certainly take. There are plenty of other teams Umberger might go to as well, but I think Philadelphia is a likely candidate. Being born in Pittsburgh, Umberger would be much closer to home in Philly than Columbus. There is also a chance he could go to the Pens, but that’s a story for another day.
Umberger’s no-trade clause will become a limited trade clause on June 15th, and then he will submit his list of ten teams he cannot be traded to. After that, we will know more about where he might go an who he might go for, but until then it’s fun to guess. Shortly thereafter, we can expect to see him traded. We’ll know soon enough who the Jackets management thinks is a fair enough trade. Until then, leave a comment and let us know what you think!