- CTF Contributor: Canadan82
The love affair between RJ Umberger, the City of Columbus, and the Blue Jackets fanbase has been obvious during his time with the club. He made an immediate impact with his high octane play, his unwillingness to quit, and his efforts to ignore personal well being in order to make the best play possible. He has become a vocal leader in the locker room, along with getting involved in a handful of community related activities, while spending his entire year in Columbus rather than traveling to a summer home.
I personally do not have much negative to say about the guy. He is well known for his efforts on the ice, likely as much as he is known for 'the guy who got obliterated by Brian Campbell in the playoffs.' What my major concern now, is that while he talks a big game, his quality of play could generate a price tag that would burden Columbus in the long run.
As it stands, he is about to go into the final year of his four year, 15 million dollar contract. He is scheduled to make 4.5 million this coming year, however, his cap hit is around 3.75 million. During the last two years, his statistics are remarkably similar, with 23/25 goals, 32/32 assists, 221/220 shots. The one major difference from last year to this year, was his plus minus, which was +19 better (+3) this year.
The concerning part of those numbers, of course, are that his efforts on the ice, along with his leadership with the team and intense compassion for winning could spark a substantial increase in value, whether it is with the Blue Jackets or another team in the National Hockey League. That being said, I think there is some strategy that could be utilized here by the Jackets, which would set at ease a fanbase questioning their ability to retain important pieces of the franchise, along with the negativity surrounding their ability to produce quality contracts for quality players without overpaying.
A contract with a length of 8-10 years is what I would most like to see. While his current numbers could generate a pay raise, a deal that long would give the Jackets the opportunity to front load a contract but keep the cap hit at a manageable number. I do believe that he could very well be worth around 6 million for the next couple years, however I do not think his style of play will be something he can maintain well into his 30s, and I expect to see a far bit of decline as he ages. These thoughts lead me to believe that extending the length of the deal long enough will allow the Blue Jackets to provide him a contract that matches his current cap hit, yet provides him a pay raise over the first couple years to credit his hard work without costing the team heavily in the latter years. With all that said, here is how I would like to see the numbers for an eight year deal:
- Year 1: 5 million
- Year 2: 5 million
- Year 3: 5 million
- Year 4: 5 million
- Year 5: 4 million
- Year 6: 3 million
- Year 7: 2 million
- Year 8: 1 million
Contract total: 30 Million (3.75 million cap hit)
Not too many people are building their "CBJ dream team 2011-2012" without Umberger on the roster, myself included. He has been a fantastic asset at a very reasonable cost, and is one of the truly dynamic players this franchise has ever seen. Not to mention, his leadership and will to win is a contagious feeling that I would love to see spread throughout the roster. So what would you folks like to see given to RJ?
Carry the Flag!