The first day of the Flyers' rookie camp was held Monday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, but the bigger news was the way veteran winger R.J. Umberger skated on the other sheet of ice.

Umberger, coming off the worst season of his career, skated effortlessly and had no ill effects from hip and abdominal surgery.

"I feel like a different person," said Umberger, one of many veterans on the ice in advance of Friday's official camp opening for vets. "It's refreshing. It was a great offseason for me to get healthy. It's been a long time since I felt like this."

Umberger returned to the Flyers last season after being acquired in the deal that sent popular (and highly productive) winger Scott Hartnell to Columbus. Umberger had just nine goals and a career-low 15 points. He did not score in his last 18 games, a career worst.

Umberger said his health problems started during the summer of 2014.

"It was bothering me so bad, I wasn't able to train as intensely or as hard as I normally would," he said. "And from the start of the season, I wasn't up to par or where I needed to be - and it continued to get worse as the season went on. It eventually led to other things, like abdominal and groin pain.

"I was basically skating on one leg."

Umberger, 33, said he should have told coaches early in the season about his health problems, but conceded that because he was dealt for such a high-profile player in Hartnell, he tried to press on.

"You just get traded. You're looking for a fresh start and looking to get off to a quick start," he said. "I didn't really want to say how I was feeling or how my summer was. I knew I had big shoes to fill from the Hartnell trade, and the last thing you want to do is start the season off on injured reserve."

Umberger had surgery on his right hip and abdominal muscles on March 18, and resumed skating in early June. He returned to his home in Columbus and skated most of the summer, and he also strengthened his back and hip during summer workouts.

"Once I got back on the ice, I did a lot of skating to become a more efficient and fluid skater," said Umberger, adding that when he had the hip problem he developed bad habits "that I had to get out of my skating."

Having Umberger healthy is a "good spot to start camp," new coach Dave Hakstol said.

The Flyers are hoping the once-speedy Umberger returns to the form that produced an average of 22 goals during each of his five full seasons with Columbus, excluding a lockout-shortened year.

"We have to be a hungry group with a team-first attitude," Umberger said. "We have to have a sour taste in our mouth from last year. I think we definitely underachieved as a team."


Center Scott Laughton, who skated with the 23 prospects, is in his fourth camp and said he has totally recovered from last season's concussion. "A lot of people say it's now or never, but I'm still a young guy," said Laughton, 21. " . . . I'm going to try to not give them the option to send me down.". . . Massive defenseman Sam Morin was paired with speedy Shayne Gostisbehere during drills. "I have two good options with the Phantoms or the Flyers," Morin said of his first pro season. . . . The three-day rookie camp resumes at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday.