Nathan Horton’s tenure in Columbus has been underwhelming to say the least.
Sure, they were well aware of his pending shoulder surgery when they signed him to a seven-year, $37.1 million deal in the summer of 2013. They were okay with that. And they were willing to deal when he was put out by an abdominal issue at the end of the 2013-14 season. But things have changed even further.
According to Aaron Portzline’s report in Monday’s Columbus Dispatch, that back ailment he’s been suffering from could be career-ending.
Portzline reports that Horton has a “degeneration of the entire lumbar region of his spine or lower back.” There’s a growing concern that his career “might be finished.”
Obviously, this is unfortunate for the player. Horton is still a young man at 29-years-old and still had promising years ahead of him. Now, it seems the dream is over and he’ll have to manage his back issue instead of managing the day to day life of being an NHLer. Surgery is an option, but doesn’t guarantee much of anything. His agent said that Horton is in constant pain as it is.
The Blue Jackets will be covered by insurance for most of Horton’s salary — $6 million this season — once he misses the club’s 21st game of the season, on Nov. 25. Future seasons would work the same.
Horton could be placed on the long-term injured reserve list if the Blue Jackets need space under the NHL salary cap, but that’s not yet an issue. The Blue Jackets are $7.17 million under the cap, according to CapGeek.com.
This obviously puts a serious dent in the Blue Jackets’ top line, which was supposed to be Horton, Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen. The one positive in this situation is that the Blue Jackets were forced to adapt to Horton’s absence last season, so they know what it takes to win without the big forward.
Hopefully, Horton can find a way to live his life comfortably without having to be in constant pain from here on out. Whether or not he can suit up in the NHL again seems secondary, but the Blue Jackets would love to see Horton again at any point.
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