Nathan Horton will be testing Free Agency and I can’t say I’m shocked, but I was mildly surprised. He’s probably aware he won’t get the payday he feels he deserves from Boston, due to their cap contraints. Maybe he tests the waters and sees numbers that are similar to what Boston will throw at him and he stays or maybe someone in dire need of a top-6 winger gives him a big money, multi-year deal. I’m going to bet that it’s the latter of these two scenarios. There are 3 teams that come to mind, who fit the bill…
The Nashville Predators - This is a very strong defensive team (even more so with the addition of Seth Jones) with one of the top 10 goalies in the league (Pekka Rinne). Outside of Filip Forsberg, they really don’t have many names on offense that jump off the sheet. Adding Horton to the wing on the top line instantly gives them a power forward with a scoring touch to give Forsberg more room to work. They are also a fairly young team that could use Horton’s experience, both as a veteran in the league and as a playoff hero.
The New York Islanders - Another very young team (with a ton of cap space) in need of some scoring depth on the wing. The Islanders are already becoming a scary team in the East, with rising stars like John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo. They’ve already gone out and brought in Cal Clutterbuck to add some grit to their second or third line. Before Horton would sign with the Islanders I think they’d have to add some depth on their blueline, because I have a hard time believing he’ll go from a surefire contender to a team with a lot of potential.
The Ottawa Senators - They have a solid defensive system and a rising star in Erik Karlsson on the blueline. The Senators made it into the second round of the playoffs with a roster made up, mostly, of guys who were in the minors earlier in the year. One of the glaring weaknesses of this team was their scoring depth and with the 3rd most cap space of any team in the league, they can remedy that with a couple big Free Agent signings. I think Ottawa is the most likely landing spot for Horton. If he signs with them and they are able to aquire a playmaking center (maybe a Danny Briere or Mike Ribeiro), they instantly jump into the conversation as a dark horse contender out of the restructured “Northeast” division.
There it is, I think Horton has the best chance of going to the Ottawa Senators and if my gambling record is any indication, I’ll be way off.
(photo courtesy of Zimbio.com)