COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets signed center R.J. Umberger to a four-year contract, club General Manager Scott Howson announced July 7. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed. Last month, Umberger was acquired by Columbus with a fourth round pick (118th overall) in the 2008 Entry Draft from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a first round pick (19th overall) and a third round pick (67th overall) in the same draft.
"Acquiring R.J. last month was an important first step in our efforts to improve the hockey club this summer and we are pleased that he will be a part of our organization for the next four years." - General Manager Scott Howson
Umberger, 26, is a three-year NHL veteran who has registered 49 goals and 67 assists for 116 points with 78 penalty minutes in 228 career games with the Flyers. He collected 13-37-50 with 19 penalty minutes in 74 games in 2007-08, setting career highs in assists and points. He added 11-5-16 and 12 penalty minutes in 22 playoff games to help the Flyers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
"Acquiring R.J. last month was an important first step in our efforts to improve the hockey club this summer and we are pleased that he will be a part of our organization for the next four years," said Howson. "He is a competitive, hard-working player who will add versatility to our top six forwards."
Umberger played three seasons at Ohio State University from 2000-03, collecting 58-71-129 and 65 penalty minutes in 112 games. During his freshman season in 2000-01, he registered 14-23-37 with 18 penalty minutes in 32 games en route to being named the CCHA Rookie of the Year. The following year, he led the Buckeyes in goals, assists and points with 18-21-39 in 37 games. He netted a career-high 26-27-53 with 16 penalty minutes in 43 games in 2002-03 to earn CCHA First All-Star Team and NCAA West Second All-American Team honors.
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native was Vancouver's first pick, 16th overall, in the 2001 Entry Draft. Prior to his arrival at Ohio State, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder played two years as a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program from 1998-00. He played for Team USA at the 2001 and 2002 World Junior Championships, tallying 3-6-9 in 14 games as the team compiled a combined record of 9-3-2.