There is just something about the date June 23. Three years ago, then-general manager Paul Holmgren traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter after they flamed out in the playoffs, and now, Ron Hextall follows suit as he traded fan-favorite Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets for R.J. Umberger and a fourth-round pick.
It's a curious move to say the least, but what makes it most interesting though is that Hartnell had a no-trade clause, and he has always expressed is love for Philadelphia and the fans have reciprocated. So what happened there? Also, while Hartnell had a down past two years compared the his lofty standards that he set for himself in the first few years with the team, he is still a valuable piece offensively, especially on the power play.
Umberger and Hartnell are the same age, and Hartnell has earned more points than Umberger in the past five seasons. Yes, Umberger is an ex-Flyer, but may be most-known for getting blown-up by Brian Campbell in the 2006 playoffs. He doesn't possess the same speed that he once did, and he doesn't provide the physicality that Hartnell does, so this move doesn't make much since. But maybe it's a sign that there is more to come as there have been rumors of the Flyers moving up to the top of the NHL Draft in a week.
So what does this mean for the Flyers lineup next season? Umberger, if he's on the team, will probably be a third-line winger, and he may get some time on the second power play unit. Hartnell's spot on the first line will be taken by Wayne Simmonds, who proved through his performances in the playoffs and late in the season that he is ready to take that spot beside Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.
Ron Hextall is an intelligent man, so right now, Flyers fans should have faith in his plan, but a trade like this has to make fans wonder about the direction this team could take.
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