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The Nathan Horton era in Columbus starts tonight

Jan 2, 2014, 11:58 AM EST

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 4: Nathan Horton #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets meets with fans waiting outside before the start of the NHL game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Calgary Flames on October 4, 2013 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Getty Images

When the Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Nathan Horton to a seven-year, $37.1 million contract over the summer, they knew he wouldn’t make his debut in October.

Horton needed offseason shoulder surgery, but he’s finished his rehab and is ready to play in his first game with the Blue Jackets, according to the team’s website.

He’s not a superstar, but he is a great power forward that’s been very successful in the playoffs. For a franchise that’s never had any success in the postseason, the prospect of adding a guy like him is potentially huge.

So his debut alone would make this a big night for Columbus, but that’s not the only bit of encouraging news they got this morning. Sergei Bobrovsky will probably return from a groin injury tonight. That being said, the Blue Jackets will probably ease the defending Vezina Trophy winner back into the lineup by having him serve as the team’s backup in their match against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Defenseman Dalton Prout (upper body) is also likely to rejoin Columbus after a six-game absence.

Columbus is six points out of a postseason spot, but they would have to leapfrog several teams in order to make the playoffs.

  1. montrealbbr - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    Overrated and overpaid!

    • shaundre93 - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      CLUTCH

    • beyor35 - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    • beyor35 - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    • beyor35 - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    • beyor35 - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    • beyor35 - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      As Shaundre said… CLUTCH…

  2. bbgraf08 - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Good luck Horton! We will miss you in Boston, especially in the playoffs

  3. Moop - Jan 2, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    As a Bruins fan, I love Horton, but I don’t see him carrying Columbus into the playoffs. He hasn’t seen game action since the Stanley Cup Finals in June, so he’s going to need some time to get used to the flow of games again, but then he’ll be expected to be a star for this team when he is known for disappearing in the regular season from time to time. Nobody knows how well Horton will play when he returns, but between him and a struggling Bobrovsky, I’m not sure that this will be enough for Columbus to get into the playoffs.

    • ibieiniid - Jan 2, 2014 at 1:39 PM

      the break from April to September (guys who don’t make playoffs) isn’t much shorter than June to the first week of January. I doubt it takes long for him to get back into the swing. he’s been rehabbing for a while, there’s some workout going on there.

      • Moop - Jan 2, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        True, true. I just don’t think he is going to be exactly what he’s been hyped up to be for Columbus. Maybe when they get Gaborik back they’ll get going, but I can’t see Horton doing this all by himself.

    • c9castine - Jan 3, 2014 at 1:13 AM

      i think your missing the big picture, nobody expects horton to carry. he’s a pretty solid piece to what honestly can be a dangerous team. they have some good forwards going on there and like you said if gaborik every manages to put more than a couple games together before his paper mache body needs patched up again they can be a 6-8 seed no problem.

      then you might seem him in the playoffs again.

  4. tripps3 - Jan 2, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Columbus could be a dangerous team in the playoffs

  5. slaugin - Jan 2, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    He def benefitted from having Krejci on his line, especially in the playoffs. Krejci is a wizard when it comes to making the perfect pass in front of the net. Not to say Horton is nothing with out him but Krejci made scoring easier for him. I don’t know enough about Columbus to say they do or don’t have that guy but my guess is prob not

    • shaundre93 - Jan 2, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      I think Johansen is the right kind of center to be that guy. He’s having a stellar year, and when healthy Atkinson-Duby-Gaborik have been an effective top line. Having a second line of Umberger-Johansen-Horton I think will give them a great 1 2 punch. The strength of this team is team defense. You add that with a productive Horton and gaborik and you’ve got a playoff caliber team

  6. reasonableperson1 - Jan 2, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Columbus may have overpaid but that’s what teams in their situation have to do. Horton will be a nice fit in terms of experience and production. Columbus has a fair amount of young guys who could make a nice little run in the playoffs this year.

    The fact they are still alive in the playoff hunt after all their injuries is quite amazing. I’m hoping for a playoff berth to revitalize the Jackets and NHL in the city of Columbus.

  7. terrier92 - Jan 2, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Good luck kid Thanks for all you did in Boston

  8. greenmtnboy31 - Jan 2, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    Aaron Rome says, keep your head up Nate.

    • shaundre93 - Jan 2, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Horton says chin up Carey, maybe someday you’ll be sent to a good team just like Patrick

  9. jacketsfan7 - Jan 2, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    Glad to hear all the hype about Columbus!

  10. pastabelly - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    I’m a Bruins fan and still a Horton fan. If Horton hadn’t left, I doubt Iginla would be in Boston. In that sense, his going to Columbus worked out for everyone.

    • Moop - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      Absolutely. Can you imagine if the Bruins had managed to sign Horton? Jordan Caron would have been playing every game up until now.

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