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Horton expects to debut for Columbus in early January

Dec 26, 2013, 1:52 PM EDT

hortonandfangetty Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets have waited patiently to see if Nathan Horton will deliver on the seven-year, $37.1 million deal he signed with them this summer. The Columbus Dispatch reports that he’s expecting to finally play in early January, with the exact date unclear.

“It’s not going to be much longer,” Horton said. “I see an ending point to this. Finally.”

The 28-year-old continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. He’s already shifted away from a no-contact jersey, a good sign that he’s nearing the point where he can attempt to play as the power forward who generated six 20+ goal seasons (including a 31-tally campaign in 2006-07) between his time with the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins. The Blue Jackets can certainly use that boost, whenever it comes.

“I don’t know when it’s going to happen,” Columbus head coach Todd Richards said. “But I’ll tell you this: ‘He’s prepared. He watches our games, even though he’s not playing. He has a pretty good idea of what we want to do. There’s a level of professionalism there. You can tell he’s been somewhere (with a winning culture).”

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