After a disappointing campaign, RJ Umberger is ready to move on from Columbus.
Over the weekend, the veteran forward submitted a list of 10 teams he wouldn’t accept a trade to, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The move comes after a season in which Umberger produced reasonably well — 18 goals and 34 points in 72 games — but sat as a healthy scratch at times and appeared in just four of the Blue Jackets’ six playoff games versus Pittsburgh.
Following the year, Umberger revealed he played through multiple injuries this season — broken finger, separated shoulder and herniated disc — and, shortly after that announcement, reports suggested both he and the club decided it was time to part ways.
It’s hard to say exactly what Umberger’s value is. A five-time 20-goal scorer, the former Ohio State standout can still be a big, power-forward type (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) and one that doesn’t take nights off; he’s only missed 13 games over the last six seasons and appeared in all 82 contests from 2008-11.
The problem, though, is Umberger’s contract.
The 32-year-old has three years left on his deal at $4.6 million per. Even with a rising cap, that number could be a tough one to swallow for any team, especially since Umberger might be a No. 3 center at this stage of his career. The Jackets could be willing to eat some salary in a trade, and it sounds as though they’d welcome that option as opposed to buying him out.
More, from the Dispatch:
For the Blue Jackets, like any small market team, a buyout is a last resort. It’s wasteful. The franchise has used two buyouts in its history: Duvie Westcott and Mike Commodore. Buying out Umberger should be considered unlikely, but not impossible.
To go into July with Umberger still on the roster becomes more of a gamble. It increases the likelihood that he’ll remain on the roster into next fall, when things could get awkward, even messy.
The Blue Jackets could still trade him in July or August, but it gets tougher. They could still buyout his contract, but it would not be a compliance buyout and thus would count against the salary cap for the next six years.
If the Jackets are going to pony up for a buyout, it’s far more likely they’d do it before 5 p.m. on June 30, when they get the benefit of losing the cap hit.
If the Blue Jackets are forced to use a compliance buyout on Umberger — it would be their first — he’d be paid $1.55 million for the next six years, until the year 2020.