The Columbus Blue Jackets chose to sign forward R.J. Umberger to a contract extension in advance of puck drop on the 2011-12 season rather than risk losing him as a UFA next summer. Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson made the announcement via his Twitter account. Umberger recieves a five-year extension, which the Columbus Dispatch reports is worth $23 million.

Umberger set a career-high in points last season with 57, good enough for second on the Blue Jackets. In three seasons with Columbus Umberger has not missed a game. He has one year left on his current deal that pays him $3.75 million against the salary cap. His new deal, which will carry him through 2016-17, will see him collect a $4.6 million annual cap hit.

Umberger provides some versatility at the centre position, and the addition of Jeff Carter this past summer should allow him to slip into a 2nd/3rd line role where he’s best suited.

In addition to providing a solid mix of two-way play and some offensive punch, Umberger doubles as a prophet. Umberger infamously predicted that the Washington Capitals’ system would not work in the playoffs leading up to the 2009-10 post-season, saying “they play the wrong way”. The Capitals were eliminated in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens. Now, if he could just solve his own team’s problems…