VOORHEES, N.J. -- If Scott Hartnell had refused to waive his no-movement clause to veto a trade to Columbus, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall says he would have understood.
Instead, Hartnell accepted Monday's trade to the Blue Jackets for R.J. Umberger, though he said, “It was pretty clear that the team that wants you is a better place than the team that doesn’t want you.”
Hextall on Tuesday explained the sequence of events in his pre-NHL draft news conference.
“I told Hartsy when I talked to him that I’ve been traded as a player and it’s a bad feeling,” Hextall said. “So I totally understand and respect what he was going through. If in the end, he would have said ‘no,’ then we would have respected his wishes.”
Hextall said he spoke with Hartnell's agent, Dean Grillo, in advance of the deal, beginning at the general manager meetings during the Stanley Cup Final.
“I wasn’t shopping Scott Hartnell,” Hextall said. “When I was circling around with the other managers, I said, ‘We need some cap relief here. If you can think of anything, let me know.' Columbus ended up coming hard after Scott.
“It didn’t give us a lot of cap relief, ironically. But it was a deal that I thought about for a few days before I went to Scotty’s agent because I realized he had a no-movement clause. It was a sensitive issue.”
Hartnell's cap hit is $4.75 million, while Umberger's is $4.6 million -- a total of $150,000 savings for the Flyers.
Hextall told Grillo the deal made sense for the Flyers in terms of moving forward with cap issues and years left on the contract, as well as adding more speed to the lineup.
“If you look at our team, we got a lot of guys in the next two or three years that are up,” Hextall said. “It’s kind of a far vision, but it’s reality. Two, three years from now, [Sean] Couturier, [Brayden] Schenn, [Braydon] Coburn, go down the list, Mason in three. It goes on and then our young defensemen will be up [on the roster] …”
According to Hextall, after he explained the rationale to Grillo, Hartnell called him.
“The one question he asked me was, ‘When did I fall out of favor?’” Hextall said. “I said, ‘No Hartsy, you haven’t fallen out of favor. This is just something that fits for us and we want to move forward with it.’
“To Scott’s credit and his agent’s credit, they were open to it, though it took them two days, which I had no problem with.”