“Nathan Horton was the player we identified as a perfect fit for the Columbus Blue Jackets and we are very happy to welcome Nathan and his family to our organization,” said Kekalainen. “He is an elite power forward who brings size, skill and a great desire to compete to our lineup. He is also a person of great character and someone who will fit in very well with our team.”
Horton, 28, has scored 198 goals and added 204 assists for 402 points with 543 penalty minutes and a cumulative plus/minus rating of +57 in 591 career NHL games with the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins. He has added 15-21-36 and 49 penalty minutes in 43 career playoff games, helping the Bruins capture the Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and earn an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 2013.
In 2012-13, he collected 13-9-22, 22 penalty minutes and was +1 before tallying 7-12-19 and 14 penalty minutes in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He led all players in the playoffs with a +20 plus/minus rating and was tied for second in points, third in assists and sixth in goals.
“I am very excited and proud to be a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is a team on the rise with great players and I’m looking forward to being a part of it,” said Horton. “We felt at home as soon as we visited here and it was pretty clear to us that this is where we wanted to live. This is a great fit for me and my family.”
Florida’s first pick, third overall, in the 2003 NHL Draft, Horton has accumulated five 20-goal seasons, one 30-goal campaign and has registered at least 50 points five times, including a pair of 62-point seasons, during his nine NHL seasons. He set career highs for goals and points with 31-31-62 in 82 games in 2006-07 and the following year picked up 27-35-62 in 82 games with the Panthers.
The 6-2, 229-pound Horton made his NHL debut with Florida as an 18-year-old in 2003-04 and chipped in 14-8-22 and 57 penalty minutes in 55 games as a rookie. He went on to appear in 422 games as a Panther from 2003-10, racking up 142-153-295 with 382 penalty minutes and a +27 plus/minus rating.
Horton was acquired by Boston, along with forward Gregory Campbell, from Florida in exchange for defenseman Dennis Wideman, a first round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft and a third round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft prior to the 2010-11 campaign. In his first season as a Bruin, he collected 26-27-53, 85 penalty minutes and was a career-best +29 in 80 games and added 8-9-17 and 21 penalty minutes in 21 playoff games to help the club win the Stanley Cup. In 169 games with Boston from 2010-13, he registered 56-51-107 with 161 penalty minutes and was +30.
A native of Welland, Ontario, Horton played two seasons with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League from 2001-03. He collected 64-71-135 and 195 penalty minutes with an even plus/minus rating in 118 career OHL games and added 10-8-18 and 20 penalty minutes in 18 OHL playoff outings. He earned OHL All-Rookie honors in 2001-02 after picking up 31-36-67 and 84 penalty minutes in 64 games.