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Will Horton’s playoff success lead to contract extension?

Jun 10, 2013, 9:50 AM EDT

Nathan Horton Getty Images

Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton wasn’t particularly special in the regular season, but he’s one of the main reasons the Boston Bruins have made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

He’s stepped up with seven goals and 17 points in 16 playoff contests and has meshed brilliantly with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

“More than half of my goals are totally because of him where he made a play to set me up,” Krejci told CSN New England. He has a league-leading nine goals and 21 points.

This isn’t anything new for Horton. He also excelled during the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup-winning run with eight goals and 17 points in 21 postseason contests.

The problem for the Bruins is that the 28-year-old forward might not be around for much longer. He’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and while the Bruins almost certainly want him back, in the salary cap era it’s never that simple.

Boston already has $59,025,000 committed to 18 players for the 2013-14 campaign, according to Cap Geek. That doesn’t even include goaltender Tuukka Rask, who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent after the finals.

The Bruins cap situation isn’t quite as tight as it sounds because Marc Savard (concussion), who has a $4,027,143 annual cap hit, will probably spend the 2013-14 campaign on the long-term injured reserve list, but Boston would still need to move a player to give Horton the contract he’s likely after.

It might be worth it though, because if nothing else, Horton has established himself as a playoff hero.

Further Reading:

Haggerty: B’s need to bring back Horton

  1. nostredummass - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    It’s becoming pretty obvious. Some players raise their games in the playoffs. Horton Krecji and Lucic seem to do it at will. I’m sure Chia is aware of this and will do everything possible to keep Horton. Unfortunately under the cap it might take a bit of sacrificing all around to keep him in the fold. Hopefully being on a contending team and around a great group of guys will be enough to convince Horty to stay and not be seduced by the “big bucks”. If nothing else the Penguins series proved how great being part of a real team effort can really be. I’m guessing, after all those years languishing with the Panthers, Horton will be willing to make a concession or two to stay with a winning team.

  2. nunan - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    They should do whatever they can to re-sign him. He is a major part of that line and clearly steps up in the playoffs. His mediocrity in the regular season is worth it given how effective he is in the postseason. You can’t justify letting such a clutch performer go. After Rask, he takes priority over everyone else…kelly, peverley, jagr, ference, etc. They’re going to have to make some tough decisions to make room but their D is intact and if they can resign Horton, their top two lines will be as well. Keep the band together.

    • nunan - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      Seems like the right time to take advantage of their prospects, as a financial decision, but also bc the timing is right. Between Bartkowski, Krug, Spooner, and Soderberg, they have the ability to fill in the gaps. Those guys are all clearly on the ‘cusp’.

    • freestyle1022 - Jun 10, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      You cant just think this year. Priority of signings over the next two years are:

      1. Tuukka 2. Bergeron 3. Seidenberg 4. Horton.

      Even with LTIR of Savard, money will be tight with the reduction in the cap. But you have to think two years ahead with Tuukka getting ~$6m, Bergeron $6m+ and Seidenberg getting raise as well ~$4.5, Where does Horton fit? I don’t think the concussion and hometown discount can keep him where he’s at now.

      Letting go of Peverley at $3.25 could help, but otherwise the numbers just don’t work, and that’s just too bad.

      • botlecap - Jun 10, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        i expect they will trade peverley to help with the cap. it’d be easier for their young forwards to come in and play wing, and peverley’s ability to play center with someone hurt is really a luxury more than a must have. it may also make sense to buy out savard depending on how much he actually costs them right now (w/ insurance). i think the other move you will see is that a defenseman will be traded – boychuck, or seidenberg would each fetch a great return. they seem to have excellent depth on the blue line (krug, hamilton, bartkowski), so that is where your cap space is likely to come from. i just don’t see seidenberg staying past his current contract at his age, and ference may or may not be brought back. those are hard choices given how huge they are for this team, but you can’t keep giving everyone raises. the lucic and seguin extensions are really an issue now with the lower cap.

        bottom line is that rask and horton are the two hardest guys to replace – especially since seguin has regressed. they’ll find some combination of caron, soderberg, spooner, and camper to fill the forward ranks (or pick up some depth type free agents).

        if seguin had a better year, keeping horton wouldn’t be such a high priority. maybe it isn’t. the real issue i see is that they’ve got 1 or 2 years left with this core group to push for another cup. after that you’re going to see a lot of roster turnover. so on the one hand, might as well let horton go and get it started, and on the other, how can you not keep the roster together and give them another shot or two?

      • freestyle1022 - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:01 PM

        Seidenberg is only 31, lots of hockey left in him. He’s been a force with Chara in the playoffs and a perfect #2 pairing anchor in the regular season. Boychuck at $3.3m for the next two years is a pretty good number for his role and ability. Esp after his efforts this postseason, he’s been a beast, why get rid of what your team is based on, Defense?

        and 1 to 2 years left with this core group?? Kreji is in Boston to stay, Lucic is signed for three more years. Chara is a Bruin through 2017-2018 (and until he retires). Rask will be ultimately signed for 7 or 8 years. And Bergeron is clearly the lifelong-type Bruin that will be signed in the middle of next year at some point. Seguins clearly not going anywhere (at least not yet). Marchands a Bruin for four more years at $4.5, another pretty decent number.

        Would love to see Horton stay, but he ranks below at least 7 or 8 guys, even after this post season still. Big fan of his since his Florida days, but the CORE is here to stay for 3+ years, and cant really see how he fits unless its known that the cap is going up next year and for years to come.

      • spitfisher - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:02 PM

        Tuuka likely will be 7.5-8.0 million a year for 4-5 years, not 6 million? Some back up goalies get close to 5million

      • freestyle1022 - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM

        He’s still an RFA which pushes numbers down, and this also a new NHL with a new salary cap, thus numbers go down across the board on average of 250K a player. So new salaries are going to be pushed down a bit no matter what. Quicks at $7m so probably closer than that, but probably lower too.

  3. 19to77 - Jun 10, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Trying to deal or buy out Kelly and Peverly should be considered. They’re not bad players, but those cap hits are just too high for what they do. They have other guys fully capable of taking those spots in the lineup – Daugavins, Soderberg, Caron, Spooner, etc. Clearing $6.25m from the cap would make resigning Horton way more viable, and let’s face it, he’s more valuable to the team than both combined.

    • thesableo - Jun 10, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      Based on their play this year I agree about Kelly/Peverley. But they’re usually better, I’d at least give Kelly the benefit of the doubt on that one.

      • 19to77 - Jun 10, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        I definitely WANT to, but Horton’s a UFA this summer, not next. There’s just no room for that kind of flexibility. Either there’s cap space enough for Horton without buying Kelly out, or they have to make the hard call. No room to let him have a rebound year. Not an ideal situation, I’d prefer to give him a chance.

  4. pastabelly - Jun 10, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    It’s no coincidence that he missed the Capitals series last year and the Bruins lost that series.

    Jacobs won’t buy out Kelly because he has two years left. Peverly has one year left and is an option.

    If Horton stays, that means Andrew Ference is no longer a Bruin. They have defensive depth and that’s what makes sense. Horton could probably get more from another team than he’ll be offered in Boston.

    When you see the likes of Gonchar getting $5 million per year from Dallas, you figure some team will offer Horton a better deal. Edmonton needs a veteran wing like Horton. While Bobby Orr is his agent and has said that Horton wants to stay in Boston, I have a tough time seeing it unless he takes a hometown discount. If he leaves, the team should bring Ryder back.

  5. cowboyjk - Jun 10, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Savard’s cap hit will more than likely be used to sign Bergeron in 2014 and Krejci in 2015. Unless Horton is willing to accept a greatly reduced salary I don’t see the Bruins resigning him.

  6. hockeyflow33 - Jun 10, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    They didn’t re-sign Ryder after his ridiculous playoff run so don’t be surprised if they don’t re-sign Horton either

    • homelanddefense - Jun 10, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      Im not saying they will resign Horton, because I think he is gone. But Ryder having a hot playoff isnt apples to apples with Horton doing it twice AND being one of their top line wingers.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        How is being a clutch playoff performer different for the two players? Ryder even had a glove save

      • homelanddefense - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        I guess Ill hold your hand thru this. Horton has done it for TWO long playoff runs. Proving it over a long period of time, its not a fluke. Ryder did it for a much smaller sample size. Add that to the fact that Horton is a top line wing, and Ryder was a 2 at best, usually 3rd line player.

        Its not the same…

    • jimthebear - Jun 10, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      They didn’t want Ryder back… Habs just did the same thing to him after he was one of their top scorers.. Something’s up with him.

  7. bcisleman - Jun 10, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Like a lot of teams, the Bs will have decisions to make. These involve not only Horton but Ference, Jagr & Daugavins who will be an RFA. I am assuming they will let Khudobin go and bring up a prospect to backup Rask. They may have to move more than one player.

  8. amityvillefun - Jun 10, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Horton is “Mr. Clutch” come playoff time. They have to sign him! He does tend to phone it in a bit during the regular season though.

    I always loved the move he did with pouring the Garden water on the Vancouver ice in the 2011 finals!

    I’m still mad Vancouver had a “backup” anthem singer for the Star Spangled Banner while they had some prima donna dude sing “Oh Canada.” Like the guy was “above” singing it or something. So disrespectful.

    If Canada was ever attacked, their good old friend the USA would be there to help. Sing our damn anthem like we do yours! Rene Rancourt does a great version of the Canadian anthem.

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