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Nathan Horton healthy, will make Blue Jackets debut Thursday night

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

More NHL: Scores | Standings | League Leaders | Odds | Injuries | Power Rankings

It feels like a lifetime ago but the Columbus Blue Jackets made a splash when early in free agency they signed former Bruins forward Nathan Horton to a seven-year contract worth $37.1 million.

It feels like a lifetime ago because the Jackets signed Horton with the understanding that he was going to require surgery to repair an issue with his shoulder that lingered through his time in Boston and thus he wouldn't be able to play for a while.

Well that while is up and when the Blue Jackets take on the Coyotes in Glendale on Thursday night, Horton will be on the ice with them, making his Blue Jackets debut.

Assuming Horton isn't too rusty from not having played since the Stanley Cup Final, he should be welcomed to the team with open arms. They recently lost Marion Gaborik to a collarbone injury so Horton will be expected to come in and fill that void until they can be a good one-two punch on the right wing whenever Gaborik returns.

Entering Thursday the Blue Jackets are in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division but are just six points back of the third place Flyers and the automatic playoff spot that comes with it. Especially in the Metro, they aren't out of contention quite yet.

Last season with the Bruins, Horton had 13 goals and nine assists in 43 games but turned things up a couple notches in the playoffs when he posted seven goals and 12 assists in just 22 games.

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