Nathan Horton

B’s might need to find a replacement for Horton


Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli says he expects winger Nathan Horton (concussion) to be back.

He sure doesn’t sound convinced though.

“I expect [Horton] to be back. He’s progressing. I would think he’d be back,” said Chiarelli, as per “In the back of my head it’s that he may be something that we have to replace. But I would expect him to be back. But we do look at players and say ‘Hey, maybe this player could add to our depth, or maybe he’d have to play a certain spot too’ like Horton’s spot.”

Horton (17G, 15A) has missed the last eight games, a stretch that’s seen the B’s go 3-5-0 and get blanked three times. His absence isn’t the only explanation for the team’s mini-slump, but it hasn’t helped.

Acquiring a player who could step in for Horton, if necessary, won’t be easy for Chiarelli.

Oilers winger Ales Hemsky could provide some offense, and the pending UFA is likely to be dealt prior to the Feb. 27 trade deadline. But Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini will have plenty of suitors given the dearth of available players. Not to mention, Hemsky is no Horton when it comes to size and strength.

Washington’s Mike Knuble is another, bigger option – a healthy scratch the past few games, the 39-year-old might have lost a step, as evidenced by his three goals in 53 games. However, he’s only one season removed from scoring 24. A fresh start with a contender could be energizing.

Or maybe the B’s will just get Rick Nash.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.