Umberger gives Jackets 10-team no-trade list


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.

Horton hurting, but ‘going to go with it’ tonight for Columbus


With a pair of veteran forwards unavailable and his team’s playoff life at stake, Nathan Horton will return to the Columbus lineup tonight for the first time in four games — even though he’s clearly not at 100 percent.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Is Horton 100 percent healthy? Not even close. Most NHL players are pretty banged-up right now, but Horton has been hobbled for sometime now and it’s unclear if the week-long break will have helped.

Asked if he knows he can play or if he thinks he can play, Horton smiled.

“I’m in, so I’m going to go with it,” Horton said. “I’ve practiced a couple times — one time by myself — but you never really know until you get into a game. I guess we’ll see.”

Asked if he’d be playing tonight if this were November 8 instead of April 8, Horton smiled. (He always smiles.)

“I don’t know. I’m not sure. It’s not November, so I don’t know.”

Horton has four goals and 17 points in 34 games for Columbus this season, often playing on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner (the trio will reunite tonight, with RJ Umberger and Nick Foligno out of action.)

The former Bruin and Panther started brightly in Columbus, scoring 12 points in his first 20 games, but has slowed down lately and is goalless in 24 straight — with just one point in his last six games prior to getting hurt.

There’s hope in Columbus as Jackets prepare for 1,000th game


Tonight in Columbus, the red-hot Blue Jackets will play regular-season game No. 1,000 when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.

As you can see below (via, it hasn’t been easy for Jackets fans since the club entered the NHL at the turn of the millennium.


And that one playoff appearance? Yeah, they were swept by the Red Wings.

But things are looking decidedly up for the Jackets. A seven-game winning streak, a franchise record, has catapulted them into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, led by their Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, as well as blue-chip youngsters Ryan Johansen, Ryan Murray and Boone Jenner, and veterans (but not old) Nathan Horton, RJ Umberger, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, and James Wisniewski.

A stocked cupboard of prospects is another reason to be excited about the future.

“We’re on a roll, but we’re not where we want to be,” Horton said after the Jackets’ latest victory, an impressive 5-3 defeat of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. “We want to get back in the playoffs and stay there. We needed a winning streak; now we need to keep the thing going.”

That “roll” has been no fluke either. After struggling for much of the season to win the possession battle, the following chart (via Extra Skater) shows the difference in their recent play:


Granted, besides Los Angeles, the Jackets haven’t exactly been rolling over the NHL’s elite. And it should be noted the Kings were playing their second game in two nights, and fourth of a tough road trip. A big test for Columbus will come before the Olympic break with a visit to California to play the Kings, Ducks and Sharks.

For now, though, let the good times roll.

“You don’t want to get caught up in it, but it shows the direction the club’s going,” said Umberger. “There have been some bad moments here. But we’ve got a lot more in us. We’re not satisfied.”

Video: Hey look, another great Ryan Miller save


Wins might come and go for the Buffalo Sabres even as they’ve shown some life lately, but if you’re interested in big saves, this team has been providing them with frequency. Ryan Miller added another entry on Saturday, as he robbed Columbus Blue Jackets forward RJ Umberger:

To review (and really, as an excuse to post these videos again), the Sabres enjoyed big saves from both of their goalies last week. Miller kicked things off with this jaw-dropper:

While his backup Jhonas Enroth provided a highlight reel stop of his own:

The Sabres are almost certainly out of the playoff picture at this point, but their goalies are making their games much easier on the eyes lately.


Myers scores twice in 300th career game

Third period surge propels Blue Jackets over Islanders

The Columbus Blue Jackets snapped their five-game losing streak Saturday night, thanks to a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders.

They scored three times in the third period, including goals from RJ Umberger and Cam Atkinson less than three minutes apart to break what was a 2-2 deadlock coming out of the second intermission.

Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky each had a goal and two assists for Columbus.

For the Islanders, the loss wasn’t the only piece of bad news from this game.

Forward Thomas Vanek left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. He played only one shift before suffering the injury.