The Blue Jackets made a big splash in the summer of 2013 by signing Nathan Horton to a seven-year, $37.1 million contract, but he wasn’t able to do much to help Columbus in the first season of that deal.
Of course, when the Blue Jackets signed him, they did so knowing that he would need shoulder surgery and consequently miss at least the first two months of the season. It proved to be worse than that though as he wasn’t able to make his Blue Jackets debut until Jan. 2 and was eventually shut down again in April, this time so that he could undergo abdominal surgery. The end result was that Horton played in just 35 games and missed the playoffs entirely.
He’s had a full summer to train and hopes that will lead to him having a strong campaign. Given that he’s projected to be the team’s highest paid forward in 2014-15 (keep in mind that Ryan Johansen’s still a restricted free agent), the Blue Jackets need for that to be the case.
Horton does have a significant injury history even if you ignore what happened last season, so he’s not a mortal lock to stay healthy even if he’s available for the start of the preseason. Moving past that though, there are questions about how high his ceiling is.
He’ll turn 30 in May and has been a relatively consistent producer throughout his career when healthy. He’s averaged about 55 points per 82 games, which is good, but not remarkable, especially given his contract. At the same time, he’s excelled in the playoffs, which begs the question: Can he step up in the regular season as well to be an offensive leader for a Blue Jackets team that doesn’t have much in the way of top-tier goal scoring threats beyond Johansen?
Keep in mind that while the Blue Jackets made the playoffs last season, it’s going to be a fight for them to get back there. Being able to perform in the playoffs is important, but the Blue Jackets also need Horton to play a key role in getting them there in the first place.
If he can manage that, then Horton will be giving them plenty of bang for their buck.
The Buffalo Sabres have recalled forward Justin Bailey from AHL Rochester.
It’s the first time Bailey, a second-round pick in 2013, has ever been called up to the NHL. The 20-year-old joins the big club after piling up 11 points (5G, 6A) in his last eight games for the Americans.
Most Sabres fans will know that Bailey is from Buffalo (technically, Williamsville), the son of former Bills linebacker Carlton Bailey. (To learn more, click on this Buffalo News story from July.)
The Sabres play Thursday in Philadelphia, where Bailey will reportedly make his NHL debut.
To make room for Bailey on Buffalo’s roster, Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) was placed on injured reserve.
Thing have gone from bad to weird in Minnesota, where embattled Wild coach Mike Yeo was “disappointed” to see Zenon Konopka’s rabbit holding a sign that read, “YEO MUST GO.”
Hey, we told you things had gotten weird.
Konopka, a former Wild player, took to Twitter last night after Minnesota’s latest loss.
Here’s what Konopka tweeted:
And what did Yeo think about that?
“I really don’t care what he says,” he told the Star Tribune, apparently adding with a laugh, “I will say I was very disappointed to see Hoppy holding that sign.”
Now, according to the newspaper’s Michael Russo, “Konopka and Yeo had a lot of issues behind the scenes and that’s why [Konopka] ended up on waivers two Januarys ago.”
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of Wild fans agree with Hoppy, er, Konopka, and it doesn’t change the fact that the Wild could really, really use a win tomorrow at home to Washington.
Nice work from Artem Anisimov and Matt Niskanen this week, but Connor McDavid‘s tally is on a different level.
You can pretty much bank on McDavid being in Goals of the Year, too. Just saying.
Laurent Brossoit is getting another crack at the NHL.
On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they demoted Anders Nilsson — who, earlier this year, was carrying the starting gig in Edmonton — and recalled Brossoit from AHL Bakersfield.
Brossoit, 22, is an interesting story. Taken in the sixth round of the 2011 draft (164th overall), he’s really made strides over the last year. He made his big-league debut at the end of last season and performed extremely well, making 49 saves on 51 shots in a loss to San Jose.
This year, Brossoit was named an AHL All-Star. He’s posted a 14-8-3 record for the Condors thus far, with a 2.70 GAA and .921 save percentage.
As for Nilsson, his demotion comes after losing the starting gig to Cam Talbot. Nilsson has also struggled to find the good form shown in November, when he made 10 starts and posted a .915 save percentage.
In his last outing, the lanky Swede allowed three goals on 10 shots in an embarrassing 8-1 loss to the Isles.