WILMINGTON — The argument against the Bruins last season was that they could not generate any offense. Given that they finished dead last in scoring in the regular season, one would have to guess that the stats were on the side of whomever would make such a claim.
But days before the team was set to draft the counterargument for the future in Tyler Seguin , they made a big splash by trading for Nathan Horton . Now the former Panthers winger is charged with being part of the group that re-establishes the Bruins as a major scoring threat. Speaking after captain’s practice on Tuesday, he looked to the team’s offensive core as something that can meet expectations in his first season as a Bruin.
“You look around and I think there’s obviously going to be high expectations on everyone,” Horton said. “It’s a great team, a great bunch of guys, and a lot of good hockey players. I think it’s great to have high expectations and I think it’s going to be a fun year.”
Horton, who has scored over 25 goals in three of his six seasons since being the third overall pick of the the 2003 draft, looks forward to whatever pressure may be placed on him and a squad that has been eliminated from two consecutive Eastern Conference semifinals.
“I grew up in Canada, so I know what that’s like, but I’m excited,” Horton said. “It’s going to be different, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. There’s pressure to perform, and I think that’s what any player wants.”
That pressure, especially in Horton’s case, could be alleviated a touch if he ends up being on a line centered by Marc Savard . The two have been discussed throughout the summer as good complements to one another, especially with Horton’s scoring touch, since the winger joined the team in June.
But it was following his arrival that rumors that Savard could be a goner via trade picked up steam. Many wondered whether the man some thought could make Horton a 40-goal scorer would be around to help potentially form a line. With Peter Chiarelli recently stating that Savard would not be traded, Horton seems that the center, who in December signed a seven-year extension, is staying.
“I don’t know who I’m playing with, but I think obviously he’s a great player,” Horton said. “He’s been a great player for a long time, he sees the ice real well and it’s tough to say, but obviously I would like to see him here. He’s been here for a while, and like I said, he’s a great player.”
Regardless of who he ends up playing with, Horton seems most excited about the team he’s playing for. Expected to contend for a Stanley Cup  this season, the 2010-11 Bruins could be Horton’s first shot at the playoffs. Having to endure regular season after regular season without any postseason play has been a challenge for Horton, but with his career overdue for a run at a Cup, Horton’s glad he found his way to Boston.
“It’s been tough,” Horton said. “Seven years is a long time. It’s where you want to play the most, I think, is the playoffs. When you never get there, you don’t taste it. It’s tough, but I guess it’s a new page, a new chapter, and I couldn’t be more excited and thrilled to be here.”