B’s might need to find a replacement for Horton

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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 CSNNE.com. “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.