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Winning the Summer

For a Monday at the end of June, the Columbus Blue Jackets sure had a big day. Fresh off a weekend highlighted by the 2014-15 schedule coming out, the Jackets stunned the NHL by dealing R.J. Umberger and a 2015 fourth round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for Scott Hartnell. We’ve had time to let it sink in and it still seems a little surreal. The surprise isn’t that we made a trade with Philly, since they seem to be on the rotating list with the Rangers, Kings & Oilers, but getting a big name player in return. My first reaction was that it was one of the fake “proposed trades” that show up on twitter anytime someone wants to get retweets or favorites. It was also a surprise because I was becoming resigned to the possibility of the Jackets having to buy out R.J.’s contract. On Friday someone asked me what I thought we’d get for Umby in a trade and my response was “If we get nothing but don’t have to pay his salary for the next three years I’d consider it a win.” Apparently John Davidson is not going to call me any time soon for advice on player moves.

Almost as surprising as trading Umberger for Scott Hartnell, is the universal acceptance of the move by everyone I’ve heard from in person and on social media. I solicited responses on twitter last night (shameless plug for @jbgrube21 if you have something to say), and to a tee they were all in favor of the move. They appreciate the time R.J. spent here in Columbus but understand that Jarmo Kekalainen won the day by bringing in a gritty forward that doesn’t mind playing tough against Metropolitan Conference opponents. The money is pretty much the same year to year, and the fourth round pick isn’t even this year, so it’s easy for everyone to dismiss as a throw in. Happy Jacket (@mashedpotatoes… seriously…) said “Hartnell fills a gaping hole in CBJ for a tough guy, leader, and goal scorer all in one. Can’t wait!” Even the fan account now named Ghost of Umby (@Umbys_Arsenal) was on-board saying “The fan account in me hates to think of Umby in anything but the Union & Blue, but the CBJ fan in me knows Jarmo hit a homerun.” If Jarmo can get a fan account to agree with his moves, then we should never doubt his powers.

The only potential downside I can see is we just took on a 32 year old Left Winger through 2019 for a little more than $4.5M a year, instead of a 32 year old Left Winger for about the same money and two fewer years. The contract may look like an albatross in four years, but if NHL revenues and the salary cap keep going up, it may be the cost of doing business in the Metro. This trade really won’t be able to be judged until we see the Blue Jackets results with Hartnell for the next two or three years, but I couldn’t tell my friends here at that I’d have this ready in June 2017.

The Jackets fan in me likes the move and views it as another brick in the wall for this building team. Being the seventh or eighth team in the playoffs isn’t the goal, winning the Stanley Cup is, and this feels like the kind of move a contender makes. Of course, I still like all the trades we’ve done with the Rangers, and I’m okay with moving Marian Gaborik to the Kings at the deadline, so maybe I am too polite with my trade grades. I like the front office’s style in these moves and they demonstrated that style yesterday. Since there is near universal acceptance of this trade we’ll have to find something else to debate over, like what line he will play with. You can start that debate on Friday by stopping by Nationwide Arena for the NHL Draft Party. Its free, a great chance to meet other excited 5th liners, and you get to watch J.D. & Jarmo at work picking the next future star for your Columbus Blue Jackets.

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