Nathan Horton might get more of the privacy he treasures by playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets instead of the Boston Bruins, but that doesn’t mean he won’t face expectations.
It just comes with the territory when you sign a seven-year, $37.1 million contract. Even so, the 28-year-old could be worth that $5.3 million cap hit; the Blue Jackets just need to be realistic about the player they signed.
Most obviously, Blue Jackets fans and front office members need to remember that he’s had some health concerns.
He might even deserve a mulligan in 2013-14, as Horton isn’t that far removed from concussion woes, is recovering from shoulder surgery and will no longer skate with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Those three factors hint at a slow start, if not season.
Hot and cold
As with many power forwards, Horton is a streaky scorer.
That’s especially true for guys who mainly score goals. Horton probably won’t pull a Jeff Carter and generate a goal-assist stat line that resembles an elite MLB pitcher’s win-loss record, but it could be close to a 1:1 ratio.
In 591 regular season games, he’s scored 198 goals and 204 assists. He also only has six more postseason assists (21) than goals (15).
Other players are more likely to pad their stats with helpers, yet Horton makes his money finishing more than anything else. Sometimes that could mean a dry spell or three.
The Blue Jackets are making some waves as a team that acquires star players rather than farming them out to other teams.
For Horton’s sake, let’s hope that they continue to build around him. It’s probably fair to say that Horton is best off as a supporting cast member rather than a marquee name. (His preference to stay off the radar hints at such.)
He might have preferred the lower profile in Florida, but he never made the playoffs with the Panthers, even though he generated six consecutive 20+ goal seasons.
Long story short, Horton can be a useful player, but the Blue Jackets would be wise not to lean on him too heavily.