Recently, forward Nathan Horton informed the Boston Bruins that he has decided to test the free agency market this summer. In a week the Bruins could politely describe as “difficult,” this was yet another blow.
Horton became a local legend during Boston’s 2011 Stanley Cup run, scoring some of the most memorable goals in team history. He had Game 7 winning goals against both the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning that cemented his legacy. Though he had a problem staying consistent throughout the regular season, he always seemed to elevate his game come playoff time.
However, this was one of the reasons he was going to be tough to re-sign. Coming into this postseason, Horton wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. He was one of a handful of Bruins who put forth a pretty lackluster regular season. With that in mind, the Bruins had the upper hand in future contract discussions, if they decided they wanted him back at all.
But after yet another impressive postseason, Horton now had leverage. Many members of the Boston media who were once claiming that the team needed to let Horton walk were now saying Boston had to re-sign him. And with the Bruins facing some tough salary cap issues, you knew things were going to get complicated.
First of all, priority no. 1 is re-signing goalie Tuukka Rask. Anyone who watched Rask these past few months knows he’s got a monster contract heading his way. This alone was going to make re-signing anyone else an issue, but especially Horton. And since he saw Rask’s play first hand, Horton knew the team was going to be cash-strapped if they gave the young goalie the deal he deserved.
Boston GM Peter Chiarelli intimated the team intended to try and bring Horton back for next year. However, he would have to shed more than a couple of contracts if he wants to give Horton a competitive deal.
To be fair, there’s always a chance Horton doesn’t like the offers he receives from other teams. A return to Boston isn’t out of the question. Of course, there’s always a team that tries to throw money at their problems, overpaying for free agents in attempt to fill holes. Don’t be surprised if an NHL GM is willing to give Horton more money than he may actually deserve.
Its officially silly season in hockey, and with a tight cap in Boston, Horton trying his hand at free agency.
Though unfortunate for Bruins fans, it’s the right move for him to make.