Come On Down: R.J. Umberger

11/18/10 - Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America

With only one year remaining on his contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, is it possible that R.J. Umberger will move from his long-time home team and venture into the awaiting arms of another team’s management? Columbus GM Scott Howson has been busy making plenty of moves in a bid to persuade all of the Jackets’ fans and veterans that he aims to win. From the trade that brought Jeff Carter into the fold to James Wisniewski’s long-term deal and Vaclav Prospal’s 1-year commitment, the Jackets are sure to be a different looking team. However, there’s still the matter of actually developing as a unit and playing well together. Just ask the Miami Heat! (Oops, wrong sport)

These things considered, will it be enough to persuade Mr. Umberger? After all, just adding player depth (no matter how good the additions are) does not guarantee a good fit or a strong playoff push. I think Tampa could benefit and would do well to pursue Umberger in the future, and here’s why…

First, he’s a man on a mission. Umberger realizes that he has reached a point in his career where there’s only a limited time to play for the coveted Stanley Cup. This is what most hockey enthused youth think of when dreaming of a possible future in the NHL; hoisting the sterling silver mug over their heads while skating before a cheering crowd. Tampa Bay made the jump from finishing outside the playoffs in 2009-2010 to Eastern Conference championship Game 7 in 2010-2011 while the Columbus franchise has only ever managed one short playoff appearance that came during the 2009-2010 campaign. Obviously, there’s a whole lot of upside in Tampa Bay for a player like Umberger to consider.

Second, he’s an ideal center that would bring significant point production, and he would also be extremely useful on the power play (he has a career 36 goals and 68 points when his team is up a man). Granted, Tampa doesn’t necessarily need another center, but Umberger’s size and skill set would be a fine replacement for the likes of Dominic Moore. He doesn’t need to be relegated to the third line either, Stamkos could swing out on a wing at anytime. Just imagine this, Stamkos, Lecavalier, St. Louis on the top line and Malone, Umberger, Purcell on the second… pretty sweet, huh?

Finally, Tampa Bay is an awesome place to live and a great up-and-coming hockey community. Umberger, I’m sure, would be warmly received by the Lightning community, and I do believe he would bring his best performance to the Forum. I’m sure there are other dream players for you who are reading, and it’s with this in mind that I ask you to post your ideal player addition and a brief reason why in the comment box below. However, if you’d like to be featured in the  follow-up to this column coming later this week, be sure to send me an email.

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Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets James Wisniewski Jeff Carter Martin St Louis R.j. Umberger Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning Vaclav Prospal Vincent Lecavalier

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