Rangers Analysis: Should Blueshirts Target Horton?

25-year-old Nathan Horton from Welland, Ontario is turning out to be one of the most sought after players this off-season, even though he is not a free agent. In fact, he still has three years remaining on his contract with a $4 million cap hit in each, but Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is looking to make some changes down in the Sunshine State and because of this, he will do his best to trade away that $4 million cap hit as soon as possible, preferably before the draft which begins on Friday.

Horton has lost some value due to prior injury problems. He was limited to playing just 65 games last season with the Cats, including four weeks he spent on the sideline with a fractured tibia, but still was able to put up 20 goals and 37 assists for 57 points. Those numbers would outscore the entire Rangers roster in 2009-10, save for Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal who had 86 and 58 points respectively. To me, that is very impressive and I think it is safe to say that Horton, who could play both center and on the wing, is easily a 30-goal scorer if he can stay healthy. Another one of those wouldn't hurt the Blueshirts at all.

Several teams have contacted Tallon concerning Horton, but according to the GM a deal has not yet been completed.  However, he expects one to be sometime in the next week, as reported by Darren Dreger of TSN:

"Dale Tallon says he's talking to a number of teams, but doesn't have a deal for Horton, yet. The Panthers will be moving players next week."

That was reported this past Saturday on Dreger's Twitter account, so by saying "next week", I am assuming he is referring to, well, right now.

Continue reading after the jump.

If Tallon is placing a deadline on this - as it seems he is - he may become a bit desperate just to get it over with and completed (see Bryan Murray and Dany Heatley fiasco). There is no question that he going to want something of value in return for the star forward, but the asking price may tend to drop slightly if Friday approaches and a deal is not yet in place.

Undoubtedly, Rangers general manager Glen Sather should be butting in on the action and putting offers on the table. If it means trading Brandon Dubinsky, that is fine by me. Dubi has pretty much reached the ceiling as far as his talent level goes unless he somehow has a surprise breakout year down the road. Horton, on the other hand, has already proven that he can be a star, and that was on a Panthers team that was always streaky and unsuccessful overall.

Not to mention that he has only played two full seasons out of his six-season career, so if he can play around 75-80 games with the Rangers, and with capable linemates, he will flourish. Hopefully our friend Sather recognizes this and pushes hard to make this crucial acquisition. Plus, four million is affordable, especially if the $2 million cap escalator is accepted and installed for next season.

At the very least, we have confirmation that Sather is alive and on the hunt. Larry Brooks of the New York Post, as shared by one of our readers, stated in an article Sunday that the Rangers had been in on trade talks with the Nashville Predators for center Jason Arnott.
The Rangers were in trade talks with the Predators regarding Jason Arnott before the center was dealt to New Jersey, Slap Shots has learned.

An impeccable source reports that Nashville turned to Lou Lamoriello once Sather refused to yield the rights to Wisconsin senior defenseman Ryan McDonagh, whom the Blueshirts are attempting to sign for the coming season.


Now, I would much rather prefer Horton over Arnott, but at least we have some closure knowing that Slats did make an attempt and will likely make others as the summer progresses. Right now, an attempt at Nathan Horton appears to be the most logical one, and one that will pay off in the long-run.

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