• Leafs' Horton Still Out With Back Injury

    News: Nathan Horton (back) failed his physical and will not be included on the Maple Leafs' training camp roster, Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star reports.
    Analysis: It's looking increasingly likely that Nathan Horton has played his last professional hockey game, as he continues to deal with a degenerative spine issue that has kept him off the ice since April 2014. The Leafs, who acquired Horton from the Blue Jackets at last year's trade deadline in exchange for David Clarkson and his bloated contract, are still on the hook for the remaining $31.6 million left on Horton's deal, which runs through the end of 2019-20. The team should be able to avoid having Horton's $5.3 million cap hit count against their salary count by stashing him on long-term injured reserve for this season and beyond.
  • Jackets' Horton (Back) Traded To Maple Leafs

    News: Nathan Horton (back) was traded to the Maple Leafs on Thursday in exchange for David Clarkson.
    Analysis: The swap is more about contracts than ability, as Clarkson has been massively disappointing since signing a long-term deal, while Nathan Horton's injury may put an end to his career. The Leafs can afford to pay Horton while he's on long-term injured reserve, and the Blue Jackets get a player who can contribute immediately. If Horton plays again, it presumably won't be this season.
  • Jackets' Horton Shows Some Improvement

    News: Nathan Horton (back) was in Columbus on Thursday to speak to the front office and hasn't yet given up on the possibility of playing again, the Columbus Dispatch reports. "There's been some progress there. He is feeling a little better," president of hockey operations John Davidson said. "I don't know what that means in the big picture, but he's better now than he was earlier this season. His whole attitude was different - better - than the last time we saw him."
    Analysis: Nathan Horton may yet have to undergo career-ending back surgery, and he's not going to be a factor for the Blue Jackets this season in any case, but this is the first remotely good news on Horton in months. Expect his hockey future to become clearer in the offseason.
  • Jackets' Horton Could Face Career-Ending Surgery

    News: Nathan Horton is bracing for the possibility of career-ending surgery to rectify his degenerative spinal condition, Jimmy Hascup of USA Today reports.
    Analysis: Nathan Horton has been bothered by his back since April, with the injury preventing him from executing simple everyday tasks such as bending over and getting in and out of vehicles. Since he's noticed little improvement over the last several months, it seems likely that Horton may have to opt for a surgery that would involve fusing three or four of his vertebrae with a titanium rod. Such a procedure would help Horton live without pain in his day-to-day life, but would force him to give up hockey for good, so as not to risk aggravating the injury. Expect Horton to hold out hope that his condition will take a turn for the better before the season comes to an end, but it's looking increasingly likely that the 29-year-old may have to call it quits a bit prematurely.
  • Career Could Be In Jeopardy For Jackets' Horton

    News: The Blue Jackets fear that Nathan Horton (back) will not be able to suit up in 2014-15, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
    Analysis: Nathan Horton, who was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the regular season, has been diagnosed with a degeneration of the entire lumbar region of his spine, a serious condition that could spell the end of his career. The Blue Jackets are still viewing surgery as a last-resort option for Horton, but there's growing concern the forward may never skate for Columbus -- or any other team -- again. He'll continue to rest up for several weeks before a decision is made on his next course of action.
  • Blue Jackets Place Horton On Injured Reserve

    News: Nathan Horton (back) was placed on injured reserve Sunday, Shawn Mitchell of The Columbus Dispatch reports.
    Analysis: Nathan Horton is dealing with a "degenerative" back issue, and hasn't been given a timetable for return. His placement on injured reserve means he will miss at least a week, but it wouldn't be surprising if he is out longer than that.
  • Jackets' Horton Facing Unclear Return Timetable

    News: Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Nathan Horton is dealing with a "degenerative" back condition, and the club remains unwilling to venture a guess on a possible timetable for his return, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
    Analysis: The back issue has prevented Nathan Horton from stepping on the ice so far during training camp, and pessimism about the winger's availability for the start of the regular season seems to be mounting. Kekalainen suggested Horton would try to remedy the degenerative condition by focusing on strengthening his core muscles, but even that process could take awhile before the pain subsides. A top-six role likely awaits for Horton when he's healthy, but because that's rarely been the case over the previous three seasons, it's probably not worthwhile for fantasy owners to pin their hopes on him.
  • Jackets' Horton Could Miss All Of Camp

    News: Nathan Horton (back) may not participate at all in training camp, and he could be sidelined for the initial stages of the regular season, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
    Analysis: The Blue Jackets have apparently known for a while about Nathan Horton's back injury, but managed to keep it under wraps. Horton managed to play in just 36 games last season due to shoulder and abdominal injuries, and 2014-15 is starting out in much the same way. Be very cautious before drafting him this year.
  • Jackets' Horton Still Fighting Back Issues

    News: Though he's fully recovered from his abdominal and shoulder injuries, Nathan Horton will be limited in the early stages of training camp due to lingering back issues, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
    Analysis: Nathan Horton appeared poised to enter his second training camp with the Blue Jackets at full health, but it didn't take long for him to succumb to another injury. While this latest ailment doesn't appear nearly as concerning as the abdominal and shoulder injuries that both required surgery over the last 14 months, it's difficult to rely on Horton staying upright over the course of a full season. If he's somehow able to dispatch the myriad health concerns that have plagued him the last several seasons, 50-point potential exists here. For right now, however, that projection probably appears overly optimistic.
  • Columbus' Horton Opening 2014-15 At Full Strength

    News: Nathan Horton (abdomen) has spent the offseason building up his lower- and upper-body strength, and should be at full strength for training camp in September, the Jackets' official site reports.
    Analysis: Nathan Horton's first season in Columbus was mostly forgettable, as his recovery from shoulder surgery last summer pushed back his debut to Jan. 2, only for the forward to require season-ending abdominal surgery three months later. Though durability has been an issue for Horton the last few seasons, the Blue Jackets are still optimistic he can stay healthy and reemerge as a 20-goal scorer this season. Horton is expected to open the 2014-15 campaign on a line with up-and-coming forwards Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner, which gives him plenty of upside as a late-round target in fantasy drafts.