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R.J. Umberger was a healthy scratch four times down the stretch for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Coach Todd Richards said it was because he wanted more speed in the lineup.
It’s a decision that has Umberger speeding for the exit.
The veteran forward requested a trade from the Blue Jackets, and GM Jarmo Kekalainen will apparently honor the request, according to Aaron Portzline’s sources.
Umberger, who is signed through the 2016-17 season at a $4.6 million salary-cap hit, has a no-trade clause in his contract through June 14. On June 15, the full no-trade clause becomes a limited clause, and Umberger will provide the Blue Jackets with 10 NHL clubs to which he would not approve a trade. That would leave 19 teams.
… After averaging 23 goals and 50 points in his first four seasons with the Blue Jackets, he has only 26 goals and 52 points in his past 122 games. At 32, he’s not getting any quicker, but Umberger has a reputation for coming up big in big games, such as the playoffs.
It’s a shame that it’s come to this for both parties, but it speaks to the maturation of the Blue Jackets as a contender. When they signed him to a 5-year, $23-milion deal in 2011, it was seen as a vote of confidence in GM Scott Howson and Columbus from a local product – Umberger having attended THE Ohio State University, after all.
That was back when local ties were a vital selling point for a franchise with little else to hype to fans. Now that the Jackets are a playoff team, it’s only natural that an Ohio State guy they overpaid to retain is now on the way out.
Especially one whose deal predated the current GM’s arrival.