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Nathan Horton will be limited at start of training camp due to back injury

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

So, there's good news and bad news.

The good news (because positivity is welcomed) is that two separate injuries which hindered Nathan Horton in 2013-14 are healed and recovered. His surgically-repaired shoulder, a procedure that delayed his Blue Jackets debut until Jan. 2, 2014, is back at 100 percent strength after a hard summer of training.

An abdominal injury suffered later in the season - one that caused him to miss the Stanley Cup playoffs - has also been successfully rehabilitated. Entering this offseason, Horton targeted an intense summer of workouts to get into top shape for Blue Jackets training camp, which opens Friday at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.

But there's been a slight bump in the road, one that GM Jarmo Kekalainen doesn't expect to be long-term but one the Blue Jackets will be monitoring as the season draws nearer.

Kekalainen said Horton has been dealing with a lingering back issue, one that has recently required him to work on strengthening his core muscles. While the expectation is for Horton to be a limited participant early in training camp, Kekalainen said he would be surprised if this keeps him out of action for a sustained period.

"All the players who needed surgeries, they've been successful," Kekalainen said. "(Horton)'s had a little bit of a lingering back issue over the summer and he's rehabbing that, and strengthening his core.

"He probably will not be able to take part in full action at the start of training camp."

As it stands today, the only non-participants in Friday's first practice of training camp will be Horton and unsigned center Ryan Johansen.

In all likelihood, Brandon Dubinsky will move up to take Johansen's spot on the No. 1 line when camp begins. That means either Artem Anisimov or perhaps a young player like Alexander Wennberg will get a shot at holding down the No. 2 spot, but there's also the possibility of moving Boone Jenner back to his natural center.

When asked about that this week, Richards said it's a definite possibility that Jenner moves to the middle but nothing is set in stone.

We'll have a complete update tomorrow from the first on-ice session of camp at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.

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