Nathan Horton is the cagey vet on one of the hottest units in hockey, and thinks there are bright days ahead for his young linemates.
“These two guys [Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen] are going to be superstars,” Horton said, per the Blue Jackets’ Rob Mixer. “It’s awesome to play with them.”
After missing the first half of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, Horton debuted for Columbus on Jan. 2 and has been solid, scoring four goals and 10 points in 16 games. But the 28-year-old found a spark after getting onto the Jenner-Johansen line — since the move the trio has really been clicking, going for six points in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Florida and three more in Monday’s big 4-2 win in Anaheim.
Johansen, 21, is having a breakthrough campaign. The fourth overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft has already posted career-highs in goals (23), assists (20) and points (43) through 56 games, the 23 tallies tying him with the likes of John Tavares and Marian Hossa on the NHL leaderboard.
“I like playing with him,” Horton told Fox Sports Ohio. “He’s got great vision. He does everything. We’ve seen it (recently) with the goals he’s scored. This guy has it. He’s got all the tools.”
Jenner, 20, has also turned in on in recent weeks. After a tough start in which he scored just five points in his first 25 games and was made a healthy scratch, Jenner now has eight in his last 13 and has emerged as one of the club’s most physical players, sitting fourth among all CBJ forwards with 135 hits.
“I’m not sure what he’s going to be like when he’s 26 or 27 years old, when he hits his prime,” head coach Todd Richards said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “But I don’t know if there are too many guys who are going to want to play against him when he’s that old. You watch him play as a young kid against these guys now, and they struggle to play against him.
“He’s so strong. He’s tenacious. Those are great qualities to have.”
The Jackets head into tonight’s action sitting third in the Metropolitan Division, just three points back of the second-place Rangers. Should the Horton-Johansen-Jenner trio continue to play as well as it has, Columbus could be primed to make the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.