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Flyers trade Scott Hartnell to Columbus, bring R.J. Umberger back to Philly

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Hartnell

A point of clarification: R.J. Umberger does not, in fact, have a Philadelphia Flyers tattoo. Although after Monday, it might be safe for him to finally get one. 

Umberger was a Flyers fan favorite in his first three years in the NHL, before being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in June 2008. Nearly six years to the day of that deal, he was traded back to the Flyers for another Philly fan favorite: Scott Hartnell.

Said Coach Craig Berube: "RJ is a versatile guy who can play all positions. He's a good penalty killer who skates well."

From the Flyers:

The Philadelphia Flyers have acquired winger R.J. Umberger and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for LW Scott Hartnell, according to general manager Ron Hextall.

Umberger, 32, recorded 18 goals and 16 assists for 34 points to go along with 26 penalty minutes in 74 regular season games this past season, his sixth with the Blue Jackets. He added an assist in four Stanley Cup Playoff games this year for Columbus.

He spent the previous six seasons in Columbus, where he recorded 120 goals and 130 assists for 250 points and appeared in 445 out of a possible 458 games for the Blue Jackets.

Prior to joining the Columbus, Umberger spent his first three years in the NHL with the Flyers, recording 49 goals and 67 assists in 228 regular season games. In the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Umberger scored 10 goals and added five assists for 15 points in 17 games to help the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

He was traded to Columbus on June 20, 2008 along with a 2008 fourth-round pick (Drew Olson) in exchange for Colorado’s first-round pick (previously acquired, Luca Sbisa) and Columbus’s third-round pick (Marc-Andre Bourdon) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Hartnell, 32 (4/18/1982), appeared in 517 games for the Flyers over seven seasons, recording 157 goals and 169 assists for 326 points along with 908 PIM.

He was acquired from Nashville on June 18, 2007 along with Kimmo Timonen in exchange for Nashville’s own first-round pick (previously acquired, Nashville selected Jonathon Blum) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

(Side note: Hell of a trade, that one.)

Umberger and the Blue Jackets agreed that it was time for him to leave Columbus, after being a healthy scratch four times in the stretch run for Coach Todd Richards. He is signed through the 2016-17 season at a $4.6 million salary-cap hit. The contract carried a full no-trade clause that became a limited one on June 15, the Flyers obviously not being one of those teams on his no-trade list.

Umberger was traded in 2008 when he was a restricted free agent and the team needed cap space to ink Jeff Carter to an elephantine contract that, ironically, eventually led him to be traded to Columbus as well. It was a good landing spot for Umberger: Reunited with former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock, and going back to the site of his college days at THE Ohio State University.

Alas, Hitchcock is now in St. Louis and the Jackets have more going for them now than they did when having a local product was a selling point. So Umberger is sent to Philly for another happy reunion.

Also happy, we imagine: Scott Hartnell.

The man loved being a Flyer. He lived it. But for him to waive his no-move clause after the first year of a six-year contract, there had to be something rotten for him in that room. The Flyers got him for a very generous cap friendly contract ($4.75 million), but weren’t happy with his output: He posted 20 goals in 78 games, way down from the 37 goals that earned him that deal. The Flyers save two contract years with the Umberger/Hartnell flip-flop.

I like Hartnell on the Blue Jackets. A lot, actually. He’s the type of forward that would seem to fit Todd Richards’ system, and another veteran guy (like Nathan Horton) that’s been through the wars. Throw him on a line with Ryan Johansen and see what kind of space he can open up for the kid.

But it’s not what Hartnell can do for Columbus, it’s why the hell he decided to approve a trade there to begin with. Did he ask out? Was he forced out? Why make this trade if you're the Flyers for a cap hit that's just $150,000 less than Hartnell's? Why do people sign long term contracts in Philly only to discover years later that they actually signed their deployment papers to another NHL team?

At the very least, the Jackets/Penguins rivalry just got really interesting...

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