Job One for the Jackets this offseason was (and remains) signing Ryan Johansen to a new deal. Aside from that, there was very little in the way of offseason roster moves required. The fourth line and primary depth forwards required some work, with Blake Comeau, Derek MacKenzie and Jack Skille moving on in free agency. They were replaced with three very interesting signings- Simon Hjalmarsson, who is coming off a strong year in Europe; Brian Gibbons, who torched the Jackets in the playoffs this past Spring; and Jerry D'Amigo, who brings energy and jam to the lineup. More on these guys later this week though.
There was another transaction, one that surprised many, if not all of us. R.J. Umberger requested a trade at his post-season debrief. We knew that. The consensus among the fanbase was that the organization would attempt to move him in a trade, but if that were to take place the return would be minimal, nothing short of a salary dump. If a trade couldn't be consummated, a buyout (as much as the team loathed the thought) would be Plan B.
As it turned out, not only was a buyout not required, but a team was actually willing to send a valuable asset the Jackets' way in return for Umberger and his bloated contract. That team was of course the Flyers, who shipped bruising winger Scott Hartnell to Columbus.
Born: Regina, Saskatchewan
Weight: 209 lbs
Drafted: 2000 (1st Round, 6th Overall by Nashville)
In terms of the salary cap hit, Umberger and Hartnell are essentially a wash. The difference being, Hartnell has more to offer now and in the short term future. His cap hit is $4.75 million per season until he becomes a UFA on July 1st, 2019.
Hartnell can immediately be penciled into the top six. If one were to assume that Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky are the team's top two centers, Hartnell would look great playing with either. The thought of Hartnell and Johansen on a line with a healthy Nathan Horton invokes thoughts of a new "Legion of Doom" trio, for fans of the game in the ‘90s.
Hell, even the thought of a shit disturber like Hartnell paired with a guy like Dubinsky, who's equally adept at getting under opponent's skin (with skill to back it up, mind you) is exciting. Throw Cam Atkinson or Boone Jenner on the other wing and you've got yourself a hell of a top six.
Regardless of who he lines up with on opening night, Hartnell brings yet another legitimate threat to the lineup. He plays tough- he plays like a Blue Jacket. He's got the ability to put up 20-25 goals, and will always play with an edge. He gives the Jackets a net-front presence, which is sure to give the powerplay a boost.
"It's being in the right place at the right time. Just being right in front of the net, that's where I do a lot of my dirty work," Hartnell said at the media scrum after his introductory press conference. "All my goals come from right in front of the net, you know, banging in pucks, tipping in rebounds, and stuff like that. For me, you can't score goals unless you go to the net, and that's one thing I try to do every time I'm on the ice."
Fans are going to love him, with his style of play, presence in the community with his charity work like #HartnellDown, and the fun and entertaining personality he always has on display.
His advanced stats indicate that he is a very good possession player, summed up very nicely by friend of the site Mark Erickson over at BS Hockey.
Coming off the best season in franchise history, Hartnell is a very good addition, joining the team at the perfect time, bringing an ideal skill set. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!