35-Year-Old Left Wing – Free Agent
R.J. Umberger Contract Information:
Signed a five-year extension with the Blue Jackets in September of 2011. The contract is worth $23 million (AAV: $4.6 million).
As expected, Umberger was bought out by the Flyers and is now on the free-agent market.
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R.J. Umberger: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Acquired in exchange for Scott Hartnell last summer in what now looks like one of the most lopsided trades of the past offseason, Umberger struggled mightily in his first season with Philadelphia, scoring just nine goals and 15 points in 67 games. The 33-year-old, who was once an annual lock for around 40 or 50 points, saw his ice time decline precipitously as the months wore on, and after undergoing season-ending hip surgery in mid-March, he finished with the lowest point total of his NHL career. Following Umberger's procedure, Flyers GM Ron Hextall revealed the winger had been playing through the hip injury since the early part of the season, but the team had believed he would be able to play effectively through the ailment. That obviously wasn't the case, but now that he's had a full offseason to recover, Umberger might come back and finally begin to bear some resemblance to the player the Flyers thought they had acquired. Considering that he's now getting up there in the age, it's probably not reasonable to expect Umberger to reemerge as a 50-point player on the Flyers' third line, but making a noticeable improvement over last season's numbers appears to be a fairly safe bar to clear.
For his second stint in the City of Brotherly Love, Umberger looks to find some consistency and success in a top-six spot. In order to do so, he will have a battle ahead of him -- Michael Raffl, Jason Akeson, Matt Read and Vincent Lecavalier all will be jockeying for playing time, and all look to be more gifted offensively. But Umberger has proven himself to be a consistent 50-point player year in and year out, so the second line is not out of the question. Fantasy general managers should consider grabbing him near the end of the draft to round out a deep team.
Umberger was expected to step up and be one of the Blue Jackets' leaders in the wake of the Rick Nash deal, but instead he was nearly invisible for most of the season and posted his worst point-per-game pace in five seasons with Columbus. Given the influx of talent joining the roster, from both outside and inside the organization, Umberger will be hard-pressed to see even a sliver of top line time this year, and another disappointing performance could see him dealt away.
Umberger had his worst season as a Blue Jacket last year, scoring 20 goals but totaling only 40 points, and, despite being the consummate team player, even he looked disgruntled at times by the direction the club had taken. With Rick Nash now gone, the team will likely try to re-brand itself as a scrappy, physical club, a style of shinny that should be a perfect fit for Umberger, but if he decides he'd like to follow his former teammate to greener pastures, there's no guarantee he'll play up to his usual 25 goal, 55-60 point level.
Umberger has become the unquestioned heart of the Blue Jackets, contributing in every zone and providing some much-needed vocal leadership in the locker room. The addition of Jeff Carter might bump him out of a regular top-six spot, but if Ryan Johansen makes the club Umberger would be the perfect player to mentor the kid as a linemate on the third unit, and his production might not suffer much as a result. Draft him for 20 goals and 50 points if you can, but depending on his role he could still surpass those numbers.
Umberger has become invaluable to the Blue Jackets in his two seasons with the club, emerging as a Swiss Army knife of a player who can fill any and every role he's plugged into. As the club's young studs like Jakub Voracek and prodigal phenom Nikita Filatov keep developing, Umberger may find himself more and more doing grunt work on the third line rather than getting the sexy offensive assignments. While he has a knack for finding the net on his own, last season's 23 goals and 55 points may be tough for Umberger to top given his potentially dwindling opportunities.
Umberger ingratiated himself to coach Ken Hitchcock and to Blue Jackets fans right out of the gate, playing whatever position on whatever line as required and scoring 26 goals and 46 points in 82 games in his first season with Columbus. He's expected to help anchor a strong two-way second line this season along with Antoine Vermette and super soph Jakub Voracek and could easily top his previous best of 50 points set two seasons ago with the Flyers.
Umberger set a career high with 50 points last season while skating on a checking line with the Flyers and got rewarded as a restricted free agent with a big contract from Columbus after they acquired his rights on draft day. Umberger is by no means a #1 NHL center, but he’s the best of what the Blue Jackets have in established talent and as a result should be a lock for a spot among the team’s top six forwards. His fantasy value will depend mostly on how much time he ends up seeing on Rick Nash’s line and on the power play, but the opportunity alone gives Umberger some upside beyond what he produced last season.
Umberger's scoring potential is down, same as his depth chart position but it would be hard for anyone to progress in their second season if they played within the problems the Flyers faced. Expect him to bounce back into the 30 point range.
Umberger came out of nowhere to have 20 goals and 38 points in 73 games in his rookie season. There's a chance he could play on the second line and maybe get up to somewhere between 25-30 goals.