Piggybacking off of last night’s ominous news, it appears that the Columbus Blue Jackets consider Nathan Horton “out indefinitely” because of his back issues, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.
Functionally speaking, the reading is the same as Wednesday: he might miss the beginning of the regular season or perhaps a significant chunk of it. Things seem pretty cloudy for a 29-year-old forward who just can’t seem to get healthy with his still-fairly-new team.
With Ryan Johansen stuck in awkward negotiation limbo and Horton out indefinitely, it’s difficult not to feel like the Blue Jackets’ considerable momentum might be slowing down (even if Jack Johnson says the team’s known about Horton’s issues for a while now). Portzline outlines how the team might deal with Horton’s absence, including this:
One consideration is to move Boone Jenner from left wing to center, his natural position. That would give the club Dubinsky, Jenner, Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu down the middle.
Or, the Blue Jackets could keep Jenner on the wing and simply move each of Dubinsky, Anisimov and Letestu up a line. In that scenario, they’d probably look at Alexander Wennberg, Marko Dano or Michael Chaput as the fourth line center.
Those constellations don’t exactly strike fear in the heart of opponents (on paper, at least), but the Blue Jackets believed that they succeeded by taking a “rat-like” mentality in 2013-14. Those foul rodents are known for being resilient, if nothing else, right?
Oh, and speaking of Johansen, Portzline reports that his camp passed along a new proposal for a two-year deal to the team, so perhaps there could be a light at the end of that tunnel?