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Nathan Horton is a perfect fit for Columbus

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

At the top of Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s offseason shopping list was a scoring winger, and today, he checked it off.

Just days after a free-agent visit with the Blue Jackets that included a tour of the facilities and the city of Columbus, Horton decided to make this his long-term home. Horton and the Blue Jackets agreed to terms on a seven-year contract this afternoon, solidifying the top-line right wing spot for the foreseeable future.

Horton comes to Columbus after three successful seasons with the Boston Bruins, highlighted by a Stanley Cup championship in 2011. Kekalainen and team president of hockey operations John Davidson were not shy in stating their intentions of adding offense to a Blue Jackets club that struggled at times to score goals last season, and it’s safe to say Horton was high on their list of targets.

And why not? He’s a perfect fit for the Blue Jackets.

When the Blue Jackets acquired Marian Gaborik in a multi-player blockbuster deal at the trade deadline, Kekalainen said he was focused on upgrading the team’s skill up front, in particular on the wings. With depth at center ice (Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Ryan Johansen, Mark Letestu and Derek MacKenzie all down the middle), the Blue Jackets made scoring goals a focal point of their offseason additions.

They want players with a strong work ethic, good character and total commitment. During Horton’s visit in Columbus this week, he said he knew this would be “the place” as soon as he arrived – that’s the type of commitment Kekalainen and Davidson were looking for.

On top of that, Horton is a six-time scorer of 20-plus goals in the NHL and really elevates his game in the postseason. He was a force up front for the Bruins en route to the Stanley Cup in 2011 (but missed some time due to injury), and this past season, had a huge impact for Boston before finishing runner-up to Chicago.

“I am very excited and proud to be a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets,” Horton said in a club-issued release. “This is a team on the rise with great players and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.

“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.”

It has often been said that free agency offers this: when players are signed, it’s because doing so was their decision. They chose to come here.

And that’s an exciting part of Horton signing with the Blue Jackets: he wants to be here, his family wants to be here, and he wants to be part of an up-and-coming club that is hungry for more.

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