The positive vibes surrounding Columbus’ second-ever playoff appearance took a hit on Friday, as GM Jarmo Kekalainen announced forward Nathan Horton underwent abdominal surgery and would miss the next six weeks of action.
Horton, 28, scored five goals and 19 points in 36 games for the Jackets this season, his first in Columbus. He was the club’s prized free agent acquisition last summer — inking a mega seven-year, $37.1 million deal — but missed the first 40 games of the season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
The former Bruin and Panther debuted for the Jackets in January and made an immediate impact, playing some quality hockey on the club’s top line alongside youngsters Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner. Ten days ago, Horton was sidelined with the abdominal injury but did try to come back, playing just over five minutes in a win against Phoenix before re-aggravating the ailment.
News of losing Horton just prior to the playoffs is a tough blow for Columbus. He was one of the more vested postseason veterans on the team — appearing in 43 career playoff contests — and further thins out the Jackets up front, as the club was already without the services of R.J. Umberger and Nick Foligno.