R.J. Umberger Expecting Contract Buyout From Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. - At 33 years old with 11 NHL seasons of experience, R.J. Umberger knows the business side of the game.

He wasn't hiding from it Tuesday night.

Umberger, who has severely underperformed in his second stint with the Flyers, was asked about a possible buyout by the team this offseason.

"I expect one," he said Tuesday during his end-of-the-season press conference at Flyers Skate Zone. "Who wouldn't after my season? That's something up to them, their decision. Business side of it, you can't control that."

Umberger's ineffectiveness has been an expensive pill to swallow for the Flyers. After spending his first three NHL seasons with the Flyers, he came back to the team during the summer of 2014 in a trade with the Blue Jackets. He brought with him a five-year, $23 million contract he signed in Columbus.

In 2016-17, the forward will be entering the final year of that deal. His annual salary, according to spotrac.com, is $.4.6 million, sixth highest among current Flyers, behind only Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald and Sam Gagner.

If bought out, Umberger, per spotrac.com, will be paid a total of a little more than $3 million over the next four years.

Umberger was a healthy scratch for 23 of the Flyers' final 24 regular-season games and did not appear in any of the six playoff contests. He set career lows in games (39), goals (two) and points (11). Over the last two seasons with the Flyers, Umberger has compiled 11 goals in 106 games. After going without a goal in his first 32 games this season, the former first-round draft pick lost his playing time.

"It hasn't been a great two years. It's not what I imagined when I came here, but that's life," Umberger said. "Last year, I was hurt and it was obvious that I was hurt the way I was playing. I felt great coming into the season, high expectations and I felt my play, when I did play, was better than last year. I just wasn't scoring.

"Sometimes it's just tough to come off that mental aspect of it and you're not scoring. Your opportunities and playing time is a lot smaller. That's life and getting older as a player."

Four of Umberger's six seasons in Columbus went for 20-plus goals and 20-plus assists. In his rookie season, he put up 20 goals and 18 assists in 73 games with the Flyers. In his final season of his first tenure with the Flyers, he totaled 50 points.

Would he now like to play somewhere else?

"That's up to [general manager Ron Hextall's] decision to make," Umberger said. "Wherever I'll be, I'll come in the best shape like I always do and I'm ready just to have a better year. I know I can play better. I know I still have stuff in the tank. I'll make the best of it wherever I'm at."

Hextall is scheduled to address the media on Wednesday afternoon.

"I know I can play a third-line role," Umberger said. "I know I can play a fourth-line role if a team wants me to do that. I know I can do it. No problem. I can accept it."

With the Blue Jackets, Umberger had success on the power play. That wasn't the case with the Flyers and, as a result, his production plummeted.

"What's hard is the power-play time, not playing on the power-play time and not being in front of the net on the power play," Umberger said. "I had such success in Columbus and I know I can still do a great job in front of the net on the power play."

Despite the disappointment, he appreciated the reunion with the Flyers.

"It's an honor to put on the Flyers jersey and play here," Umberger said. "I wish it would have went better and it would have been more like my first time here but it wasn't. It's an honor to put on that jersey no matter when you have the chance, whether I have the chance going forward, if not, it's a small group of people that got to play here and it's a privilege to be a part of it."

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