R.J. Umberger

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Flyers will buy out Umberger

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R.J. Umberger‘s time in Philadelphia is up.

On Thursday, Flyers GM Ron Hextall confirmed the expected — the club will buy out the final year of Umberger’s five-year, $23 million deal — one that carries a $4.6M average annual cap hit.

This is what the buyout would look like, per Cap Friendly:

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The Flyers would rake in short-term gains (saving $3 million in 2016-17) in exchange for eating costs and spreading a $3.1 million cap hit over two seasons ($1.6 million in 2016-17, $1.5 million in 2017-18).

This could be it for the 34-year-old veteran.

Umberger was a bit player in Philly last year, dressing for just 39 games (though he did have decent production, with 11 points). Umberger’s production has been on a steady decline over the last few seasons, and he’s a long ways away from the 20-25 goal, 50-55 point guy he was earlier in his career.

The cap space gained by the Flyers will presumably help them come to terms with RFAs like Brayden Schenn, Radko Gudas and Nick Cousins this summer.

Buyout window opens Wednesday, here are some candidates

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Now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded, it’s time to move on to an equally enjoyable topic — players that will be paid to go away this summer!

The NHL’s buyout window opens on Wednesday, 48 hours after the final game of the season. A quick refresher on the math (per General Fanager):

Buyouts are paid over twice the number of years remaining on the player’s contract.

The rate is one-third of the total salary remaining for players under the age of 26, and two-thirds for those 26 and older.

There are a bunch of other smaller rules and regulations so, if you’d like to read about those, head over to the General Fanager page. It’s a good site.

Now, for the potential buyout candidates?

— Rumblings have Minnesota considering a Thomas Vanek buyout. Vanek, 32, is heading into the last of a three-year, $19.5 million deal with a $6.5M cap hit, and is owed $7.5 million in salary. He’s coming off a disappointing year in which he scored a career-low 18 goals.

— Nashville GM David Poile said buying out veteran forward Eric Nystrom could happen, if he’s unable to trade Nystrom prior to the window. Nystrom, 33, carries a $2.5 million cap hit but is set to pull in $3M in salary next season.

R.J. Umberger said he expects the Flyers to buy him out. Umberger, 33, is heading into the last year of a contract that pays $4.6 million annually.

Toronto is expected to do the same with d-man Jared Cowen, who was acquired in the Dion Phaneuf trade but never played for the Leafs.

Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins, both facing uncertain futures in Vancouver, are also candidates to be bought out.

Chicago could finally decide to part ways with Bryan Bickell, whose four-year, $16 million contract has been an albatross the last couple of seasons.

— Former Oilers captain Andrew Ference, who only played in six games last year before getting shut down, could be in line for a buyout. This one may be more complicated, though, depending on Ference’s health. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in January, and it’s unclear if he’s fully recovered.

Umberger expects Flyers to buy him out

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That Scott Hartnell trade certainly didn’t work out like the Philadelphia Flyers wanted and R.J. Umberger is well aware of that.

Just two years after the Flyers acquired Umberger and a fourth round pick (Austin Wagner) from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exhange for Hartnell, Umberger now believes Philadelphia will buy him out.

“I expect one,” he told CSN Philly. “Who wouldn’t after my season? That’s something up to them, their decision. Business side of it, you can’t control that.”

Umberger was limited to just 15 points in 67 contests in 2014-15, but injuries were a factor. He was very optimistic coming into this season, asserting that he felt “like a different person”, but in the end he scored just two goals and 11 points in 39 contests. He was frequently listed as a healthy scratch and wasn’t used at all in the playoffs.

Umberger comes with a $4.6 million annual cap hit, but the 2016-17 campaign is the last season of his contract. Buying him out would save the Flyers $3 million in cap space next season, but cost them $1.5 million in 2017-18, per General Fanager.

This is the 33-year-old forward’s second stint with the Flyers as they were also the team he debuted with back in 2005. Philadelphia originally dealt him to Columbus in 2008 along with a 2008 fourth round pick (Drew Olson) in order to get a 2008 first round pick (Luca Sbisa) and third rounder (Marc-Andre Bourdon). From there Umberger reached the 20-goal milestone in four straight campaigns, but he hasn’t managed to hit that mark since 2011-12.

Eastern Conference playoff picture is set: Isles’ loss to Flyers means they’ll open at Florida, Rangers to play Pens

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The Flyers had nothing to gain by winning Sunday’s game against the Islanders, but they did it anyway.

The Islanders jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Flyers responded by scoring five unanswered goals (Shayne Gostisbehere, Evgeny Medvedev, Michael Raffl, Scott Laughton, R.J. Umberger).

So, what does this mean for the Eastern Conference playoff picture? Well, the bracket on the East is officially set.

The Islanders’ loss means that they’ll finish in the first Wild Card spot. That means they’ll get a first-round date with the Florida Panthers.

That leaves the Penguins and Rangers to do battle in the two vs. three Metropolitan Division series.

Here’s how the whole bracket looks:

–Washington Capitals (1) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (WC 2)

–Florida Panthers (2) vs. New York Islanders (WC 1)

–Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic 2) vs. Detroit Red Wings (Atlantic 3)

–Pittsburgh Penguins (Metro 2) vs. New York Rangers (Metro 3)

Some people suggested the Islanders didn’t dress some of their big names because they wanted to lose the game and avoid the Penguins, but the Panthers won’t be an easy out. Florida finished the season with a 47-26-9 record.

Panthers co-owner Doug Cifu’s comments will surely be talked about at length leading up to the start of the series.

“I guess the Rangers have a great, world-class goalie, so in a coin flip, I’d probably prefer to play the Islanders,” Cifu said prior to the matchup being finalized, per Sportsnet. “It’ll be a great atmosphere. There’s a ton of transplanted New Yorkers down there [in Sunrise], so the Rangers and Islanders games tend to be packed in our building anyhow.”

A ‘big loss’ — Couturier out four weeks with lower-body injury

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The Philadelphia Flyers will be without Sean Couturier for approximately four weeks, the club announcing this morning that the 23-year-old center has a lower-body injury.

Couturier played just 11:35 in last night’s 6-3 victory in Nashville. He has nine goals and 15 assists in 40 games. He’s also one of the Flyers’ top possession forwards.

Which is to say, he’ll be tough to replace.

As far as candidates to take Couturier’s spot in the lineup, R.J. Umberger and Jordan Weal were healthy scratches against the Preds.

While GM Ron Hextall said he’ll consider alternatives…

…there’s no doubt this hurts the Flyers’ playoff chances, after three straight wins had lifted them to within four points of the second wild-card spot (with three games in hand on New Jersey).

“Coots is a big loss to our team, but we’ve got a bunch of guys here that believe in what we’re doing,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol told the Courier-Post. “Everybody’s gonna have to chip in and take a little bit of that slack. One guy’s not gonna step into that role and do it all. Everybody’s got to step in. We’re gonna keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep fighting and scratching and clawing and playing well.”

The Flyers host the Rangers Saturday, then play in Washington Sunday afternoon (on NBC).