The Columbus Blue Jackets made a huge splash during Friday’s free agent frenzy when it signed former Boston Bruin forward Nathan Horton to a seven-year contract.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the deal is for seven years and $37.1 million. It has an average annual value of $5.3 million, but McKenzie reported Horton will receive $30 million in the first five years of the contract.
Experts anticipated this signing since Horton visited Columbus on Wednesday. Horton has made it known that he wanted to leave Boston for a new start in a quieter market.
“(Horton) is an elite power forward who brings size, skill and a great desire to compete to our lineup,” Kekalainen said to bluejackets.com. “He is also a person of great character and someone who will fit in very well with our team.”
This is a tremendous move but it is also a risky move for the Blue Jackets.
On the positive side, Horton provides top six scoring and a grit to go with it. He scored 13 goals in the regular season and seven more in the playoffs for Boston this year.
Over his nine-season career, Horton has scored 198 goals and added 204 assists. He is a +57, but only a +1 the last two seasons. He was a +20 in the playoffs this season.
He also brings Stanley Cup Final experience, having won the cup in 2010-2011 and lost in the final this season.
However, I have some concerns. Seven years is a very long term, especially for someone with an injury history.
In addition, Horton will miss training camp and likely the start of the season because of an upcoming shoulder surgery. He has also had two major concussions, missing the end of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and the last half of the 2012 season.
Despite my concerns, this was a move that Columbus needed to make. The Jackets needed to add to the scoring punch. With Horton playing alongside Marian Gaborik (who is in a contract year), the offense should take a huge jump forward. An improved offense to go with Sergei Bobrovsky and the defense could mean not only a playoff appearance in the East this season, but a playoff run.
I can’t help but be concerned about the contract. If Horton stays healthy and productive, it could end up being a terrific deal. A seven-year deal for a player that is concussion-prone makes me a little nervous.
As a fan, I will hope for the best. If all goes well, maybe Horton will be playing in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time next June.