The Nathan Horton rumours have officially begun. Horton’s agent was quoted earlier this week saying “It would not surprise me at all if he’s dealt by the draft”.
Florida has been in rebuilding mode since about 1994 when they lost to the Avs in the Final, and Horton was supposed to be a part of one of their attempted emergences as a competitor in the NHL. To call him a bust in terms of career stats isn’t necessarily fair; he had two seasons of 62 points in 2007 and 2008 and could have surpassed that career high the past two season if it weren’t for injury problems.
Where he does become a bust is when you look at where his progress compared to those who were drafted after him in the first round of the 2003 Draft. Yes, that 2003 Draft; the one that might just be the best class ever. Period. Horton went 3rd overall that year behind Marc Andre Fleury and Eric Staal. Drafted after him were:
- Nikolai Zherdev (4th)
- Thomas Vanek (5th)
- Ryan Suter (7th)
- Braydon Coburn (8th)
- Dion Phaneuf (9th)
- Jeff Carter (11th)
- Dustin Brown (13th)
- Brent Seabrook (14th)
- Zach Parise (17th)
- Ryan Getzlaf (19th)
- Ryan Kesler (23rd)
- Mike Richards (24th)
- Corey Perry (28th)
Wow….It isn’t fair to say Florida should have taken Perry over Horton. Players are ranked for a reason and that sort of thing just doesn’t happen. But it is fair to say that right now, the only players that I would consider taking Horton over would be Zherdev, Vanek and Coburn. And I mean consider. As in it’s possible I would leave Horton on the table.
Horton makes $4 million each of the next three seasons, so Florida will have to take some cash back in the deal. That means there should be a lot of takers for a scoring winger where money can go both ways. I really see him staying in the East, not because of a fear of the West like some other player who is on the block, but because there are a lot of teams in the East that are desperate for scoring wingers and are looking for a bit of a shakeup after last season’s disappointing performance. On the other hand, the West is filled with teams that are either automatic competitors (Chicago, Detroit, Vancouver, SJ) or on the verge of becoming one (LA, St. Louis, , Colorado), or teams that are a little strapped for cash at the moment (Dallas, Nashville, Phoenix).
With that said, here are some options:
I think anyone following hockey knows that the Bruins are looking for a scoring winger, and considering the Oilers will be taking Taylor Hall with the 1st pick, they are going to be stuck (for lack of words) with another offensive centre in Tyler Seguin. While it is not certain that Seguin will immediately play in the NHL next year, the log jam at the position is a problem that many GMs would love to have. The Bruins currently have Marc Savard, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron on their roster, and with Joe Colborne looking to play a full year in the AHL before making the jump, someone is going to have to leave soon.
This is the perfect opportunity for it to happen because of the Panthers’ glaring need for depth at centre. It wouldn’t be Marc Savard or a big centre like it is believed Tallon wants, but a Krecji for Horton one for one deal is something that I could legitmately see happening.
I’m not sure if the Sabres have room or the patience for another overpaid winger with Vanek ($7.14 million) and Pominville ($5.3 million) signed on until 2013-14, but the rumours of them wanting to deal potential number one centres Derek Roy or Tim Connolly make this intriguing. Again, straight one for one deals are very uncommon in the post lockout era, so throw in either Mike Weber or Marc-Andre Gragnani heading to the Panthers and we have a deal. Once again though, Derek Roy is small and replacing Horton’s injuries with Connolly’s doesn’t seem to make too much sense for Florida.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Can you imagine; reuniting Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle on the point of the Panthers’ powerplay! Talk about lethal.
The only reason the Leafs are in here is because Florida needs an offensive defenseman and Brian Burke has one. But Horton is signed on for longer and is much younger than Kaberle, so Toronto would have to sweeten the pot to pull this off. I’m sure we’ll hear about Kaberle/Grabovski for Horton over the next week, but that would be giving Florida more than $3 million extra in cap and a disinterested centre whose max potential is second line. The Panthers are not looking to gain salary from this.
This would be the mother of all deals, although isn’t very likely because Dale Tallon has already said that Vokoun will not be traded……but….Nathan Horton and Tomas Vokoun for Jeff Carter, the rights to Braydon Coburn and a pick. This fulfills almost every need for either teams, which usually means that it won’t happen.
The reason I like it though is because if the Panthers move Horton, their playoff chances go way down. When their playoff chances go down, so do the chances of Vokoun staying (and they’re already in the negative) when he becomes a UFA next summer. So why not move both in one deal?
Both Carter and Coburn would have to agree to sign with the Panthers for the deal to work. Coburn is a RFA this year and will be looking for a raise, and Carter is one next summer and already makes $5 million. They would get an elite centreman as well as one of the up and coming all around solid back enders in the League.
The Flyers would solve their goaltending woes in an instance and would give Horton a place to play out of the spotlight due to the offensive firepower on the Flyers. It would also allow Philly to leave Briere at centre, the position he did so well at in the Playoffs.
It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds leading up to next Friday, but if Horton is still a Panther by July 1, and LA loses out on Kovalchuk/Marleau or the Penguins don’t get Whitney, look for both teams to get involved.