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Plum's Umberger re-signs with Flyers

| Friday, July 7, 2006

R.J. Umberger elected for salary arbitration with the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, but the two sides never came close to needing it.

The Plum native, who was a restricted free agent, signed a two-year, $2.3 million deal with the Flyers on Thursday.

"We knew it wasn't going to go that far (to arbitration)," said Umberger, who will earn $1.05 million in 2006-07 and $1.25 million in 2007-08. "It was a just-in-case kind of thing, but we'd talked to them prior to that and were getting close as it was."

Umberger, 24, recorded 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points in 73 games for the Flyers last season -- his first in the NHL. He said he was pleased that the Flyers offered him a one-way contract.

"It makes you feel real good," he said.

Umberger also was pleased with was the ease with which his second NHL contract was negotiated. He was initially drafted out of Ohio State by the Vancouver Canucks with their first-round pick (16th overall) in 2001, but the two sides never settled on a deal. His rights were traded to the New York Rangers, who also were unable to sign him, and the Flyers got him under contract in June 2004.

He said negotiations, this time, took about a week.

"It was easier than my first one," Umberger said. "This was a breeze compared to the last one. It's a great feeling."

Flyers general manager Bob Clarke called Umberger one of the future building blocks of the organization.

"There is nothing not to like about the way that R.J. plays the game, and experience will make him better," Clarke said. "He plays hard. He plays with determination. He has good skills and speed. He is just a good, complete hockey player."

-- By Karen Price

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