BOSTON -- Its not inaccurate to say that a healthy portion of Bostons offensive forecast for next season is riding on the good health of Nathan Horton.
Its been nothing but good news for the top-line right winger all summer-long, and that trend continued on Tuesday as Peter Chiarelli announced that Horton has been cleared for contact by the Bruins medical staff.
Chiarelli confirmed that both Horton and Adam McQuaid have sufficiently recovered from their season-ending concussions, and that Tyler Seguin remains ahead of schedule after undergoing surgery for a problematic knuckle on his left hand.
Horton has been cleared for contact and our medical staff says hes hell ready to go when we start playing, said Chiarelli. McQuaid has already been fully cleared medically. Seguin is coming along according to schedule if not even ahead of that.
Horton suffered his second concussion in seven months when he went down after absorbing a Tom Sestito blind side hit against the Philadelphia Flyers in January, and missed the final 36 games of the regular season along with the playoffs. The Bruins went a pedestrian 18-16-2 during those 36 games and dropped an entire goal in their goals per game production without the offensively adept winger.
The uncertainty surrounding Horton has been one of the biggest challenges for the Bruins during this summer. If healthy he gives them a 25-goal scorer and capable offensive player that was clearly missing during their first round playoff loss to the Washington Capitals, but Horton would again leave a gaping hole if he suffered another concussion or had a recurrence of his post-concussion symptoms once the NHL gets going in the fall.
Thats why the Bruins GM alluded to potentially improving the team via trades once the season is underway, even if there are no blockbuster moves made during the summer months. The Bruins can evaluate just how fully Horton will be able to contribute after watching him operate on the first line for a few months next season. Then they can make a determination on the right winger as he comes into the final year of his contract before unrestricted free agency.