Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nathan Horton could be 100 percent healthy for training camp after an injury-marred debut season with the team, reports Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. He says the 29-year-old is “around the rink every day working out” and getting ready for the 2014-15 season.
That’s certainly good news for the Blue Jackets, who didn’t get much out of Horton in his first year with the franchise. After signing a seven-year, $37.1 million contract with the team last offseason, he was expected to be one of their most productive players, but instead watched as injuries limited his ability to perform.
Before his first year in Columbus even began, Horton required offseason shoulder surgery that eventually kept him sidelined until Jan. 2. Just 36 games later, he suffered an abdominal injury that required surgery, bringing his season to a premature finish.
That all makes Horton’s first year with the Blue Jackets — 36 games, four goals, 18 points — look pretty disappointing, but they can’t rush him back given the long-term commitment. Horton’s deal carries a $5.3 million cap hit each season, so he’s being paid to play at a pretty high level.
That’s something Horton did in the past with the Boston Bruins, where he won a title in 2011, and the Florida Panthers. From 2007-11, Horton averaged roughly 25 goals and 56 points per season, establishing himself as a solid young forward. Since then, he’s struggled to replicate that production, but it didn’t stop Columbus from handing him that huge contract a year ago.
Whether he’ll ultimately live up to the deal remains to be seen, but the early returns for the Blue Jackets haven’t been great. Horton needs to get healthy, though, so this news from one of the team’s beat writers is definitely good to hear.