Ten year NHL veteran R.J. Umberger isn’t done with hockey just yet. After sitting out the entire 2016-17 season without a contract, the 35 year-old is no longer content to watch from the crowd and is looking to get back into the action. To that end, the former Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets forward has accepted a professional try-out contract with the Dallas Stars. He’ll attend the team’s main training camp and attempt to earn a roster spot and a contract for the 2017-18 season.
Umberger last played in the NHL during the 2015-16 season for the Flyers where he put up just two goals and 11 points in 39 games. His career high of 25 goals and 57 points came back in 2010-11 with the Blue Jackets, so it’s clear that his best days are past him. Still, at 6’2” and 214 lbs, he’s a big bodied forward who’s not afraid to play physical and throw his weight around, so he could provide the Stars with an interesting option on the wing.
This is purely speculation, but the invitation may also be simply a favor from Umberger’s former coach in Columbus and brand new head coach in Dallas, Ken Hitchcock. Umberger was one of Hitch’s most utilized forwards during the veteran coach’s time behind the bench in Columbus, so it’s possible that he’s merely throwing a life preserver to a player whom he respects so much. Regardless, he'll provide the team with some depth in camp and create some competition for some of the team's younger forwards.