Five reasons to like the Horton trade
The trade: Boston sends defenseman Dennis Wideman, the 15th overall pick this Friday, and their third-round pick in 2011 to Florida in exchange for center Gregory Campbell and right-winger Nathan Horton.
After swirling this trade around in my head overnight, I’ve been thinking of all the pros and cons on this one. I have five reasons to like this trade. (I also have five reasons I don’t, but that’ll have to wait til tonight after work.)
Five reasons to dig this trade for Bruins’ fans:
- A big forward (6’2″ 220+ lbs.) who can obviously hit the back of the net and help the lowest scoring team in the NHL. Horton, who just turned just 25 last month, netted 20-plus goals in five of his six seasons in the league, including one 31-goal campaign; 142-153-295, plus-27, 382 PIM, 962 SOG in 422 career NHL games played. The potential to score 40 is there, and the youngster still has a few years left in his contract to reach that plateau.
- Essentially swapping a good defenseman with some issues for a good forward with some issues, and contracts (Wideman $3,937,500 cap-hit through 2011-12; Horton $4M through 2012-13) tells me Peter Chiarelli and the rest of the Bruins’ brass aren’t done trading this off-season. One of the biggest concerns for the organization entering this season was its salary-cap space, or lack thereof. Tim Thomas ($5M cap-hit) has been the most talked about name thus far, with possible interest from Tampa Bay, San Jose, and Philadelphia. Another big name has been Marc Savard, who inked a seven-year deal last December with a cap-hit just north of $4M per. With the Bruins loaded up the middle, it makes sense. (One rumor I like a lot is Savard for Toronto’s defenseman Tomas Kaberle.) And of course, in an ideal situation, Michael Ryder…whoever is willing to take on the final year of his $4M contract. Dealing either of those three lucrative contracts would naturally give the Bruins much more flexibility to sign some impending free-agents.
- Adding another forward big forward—while Marco Sturm sits on the LTIR list—gives head coach Claude Julien some wiggle room and creativity when it comes to different line combinations. Plugging the 6’2″ Horton up from with the 6’4″ Milan Lucic would make for a behemoth of a first line. It could also give David Krejci another winger not named Wheeler or Ryder to work with; a more consistent scorer for the very good playmaking center.
- One less defenseman on the team now puts added emphasis on signing Johnny Boychuk and Mark Stuart next to fill out the back end. Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference, Matt Hunwick, and Dennis Seidenberg are the four inked to play on Boston’s blue-line next season. Keeping the two 26-year-olds, Boychuk and Stuart, would really stabilize the Bruins’ back-end for the 2010-11 season. It also erases the question, “Which Dennis Wideman will we see in 2010-11? The 50-point Wideman of two years ago, or the ‘I’ve-fallen-down-and-turned-the-puck-over-again’ Wideman of this past season?” We’ll let Florida answer that one for us now.
- This trades immediately helps the Bruins this season. One thing Chiarelli harps on is helping the club for, not only this year, but building for the future as well. By trading away a nice 15th overall pick, as well as a third-rounder next season, the general manager made up for last March when he failed to address the team’s offensive needs at the time of the trade deadline. With a much better supporting cast (and that’s no knock on Steven Weiss etc.) in a bigger hockey market, we can pencil Horton in for least 20-plus goals and 50-plus points once again (knock on wood).