Yesterday, the Flyers traded away Scott Hartnell for R.J. Umberger and a 2015 fourth-round pick. The trade was unexpected, as Hartnell had signed a six-year extension in August 2012. He was well-liked during his time with the Flyers. “Hartnell was a blunt, honest player who owned up to his mistakes and made for great quotes in the dressing room,” CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio wrote. “In many ways, he fit the profile of a Philly athlete.”
It was also surprising because the Flyers were re-acquiring Umberger, a player they’d jettisoned in a 2008 trade with Columbus. His salary is only slightly lower than Hartnell’s ($4.6 million to $4.75 million), though he’s only signed through 2017 (vs. 2019 for Hartnell). The two players are the same age. Hartnell had 52 points to Umberger’s 34 last year and rates better in possession stats.
According to Hartnell, new Flyers GM Ron Hextall told him "he was done" in Philadelphia. “He has a different vision for the club and their style of play going forward," Hartnell said. And, if they weren't able to trade him, the Blue Jackets were considering buying out Umberger, who was a healthy scratch by season's end.
So the trade seems odd. But don't take my word for it! Take the word of pretty much every hockey analyst.
- "What makes me scratch my head even more is Ron Hextall said he's not really sure where Umberger fits," the Courier Post’s Dave Lozo said on KYW 1060.
- "No matter where [Umberger] plays, he's not going to be better than Hartnell," Broad Street Hockey's Travis Hughes says. (Hughes also reports Umberger does not have a Flyers tattoo.)
- "Hextall dealing Hartnell is a bit like slugging the biggest guy your first day in prison," tweets Yahoo! Sports writer Harrison Mooney.
- The headline on a Sporting News story by Travis Yost reads: "Scott Hartnell is good, R.J. Umberger is not, and Ron Hextall is confusing"
- A story by Justin Bourne on Canada's The Score is similarly blunt: "The Flyers traded Scott Hartnell for R.J. Umberger, immediately got worse"
- A story by Andrew Berkshire on Montreal Canadiens blog Eyes on the Prize is, too: "Hextall is fucking crazy."
- The most positive commentary I could find was from the Columbus Dispatch’s Michael Arace: "It is not a terrible deal for the Flyers."
What's being viewed as more upbeat: The Flyers' extension for 22-year-old Brayden Schenn, announced later in the afternoon. And, R.J. Umberger gives us a chance for Flyers fans to see a repeat of an incredible closed captioning mistake: "Archie Hamburger."
Follow @dhm on Twitter.