In need of cap space, Flyers buy out R.J. Umberger's contract


VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers have bought out R.J. Umberger.

General manager Ron Hextall said earlier in the day Thursday the club was filing paperwork and waiting for Umberger to decide whether he would prefer to go on waivers because of his "no movement" clause. 

The buyout period began Wednesday.

“He has the option with the no-move clause to go on waivers or not,” Hextall said. “The league has to wait to get the letter from him that he is bypassing his waiver eligibility.

“We think it will be done before the day is over. We’ve had conversations. We expect him to waive it.”

Umberger, who expected the move, waived his right. He would have made $4.6 million in the final year of his contract.

The Flyers will save $3 million on his buyout this year while reducing their cap hit to just $1.6 million. They can spread the buyout over two years, too. This move gives the Flyers at least $10.5 million in cap space right now, assuming the cap hovers around $71 million. The current cap is $71.4 million. It’s expected to go up slightly, perhaps to $73 million, but given the weakness in the Canadian dollar, it could go down.

The 35-year-old Umberger played just 35 games this season with two goals and 11 points. Coach Dave Hakstol benched him in 24 of the Flyers’ final 25 games. The Pittsburgh native was already coming off a poor 2014-15 campaign in which he had just 15 points in 67 games because of severe hip and abdominal injuries, which were corrected via surgery in March 2015.

A tough decision?

“Not really,” Hextall replied. “You don’t want to make rash decisions at the end of the season, but that’s the way we were leaning … for us.”

When Umberger reported to training camp last fall, the center-turned-winger looked and admitted he was quicker on his skates. Unfortunately, it simply didn’t translate on the ice, where he continued to lack for offense, even though he skated on nearly a dozen different line combinations.

After four consecutive seasons of 20 or more goals — all spent in Columbus — Umberger has had declining numbers in three of his last four years.

He came to the Flyers from the Blue Jackets in the controversial June 2014 trade for Scott Hartnell, as the Flyers were trying to reduce both term and salary on Hartnell’s deal, which at the time, was costing them $4.75 million a season with five years left.

The Umberger deal was the first trade Hextall made after his promotion to GM when Paul Holmgren moved to club president. Hextall admitted the trade didn’t work for the Flyers.

“There were two parts to the trade essentially,” Hextall said. “The one was the space. I felt like two or three years for then it was going to be good for us, and I feel the same way now. Hartsy’s been a good player in Columbus.

“We need space, we’ve got guys that are coming up like Ghost (Shayne Gostisbehere) and [Brayden] Schenn and [Radko] Gudas. We need space. Hartsy played well for Columbus, and we’re essentially going to be out of it. So I’m fine with it.”

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