The list of No. 3 overall picks this decade includes the likes of Marian Gaborik, Jonathan Toews, Jay Bouwmeester, Jack Johnson and Matt Duchene. Also on the list — albeit with a bit less star power — is the newest addition to the Bruins, Nathan Horton.
While he's been reliable for the Panthers, averaging 26 goals and 29 assists in his five full seasons in the NHL, Horton has yet to live up to that top-three potential. NESN play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards thinks that Boston may be the perfect place for him to break out.
"Horton just needs a strong arm on his shoulder, [and] Claude Julien may be just the guy to do it," Edwards said as a guest on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher and Rich Show on Wednesday morning. "He's played for five different coaches, never been in playoff game, never had the kind of guiding influence on his career that Steven Stamkos said that Mark Recchi was [in Tampa Bay]. Even in just [two-thirds of the 2008-09] season, Recchi had a profound impact on Stamkos.
"You would hope that the Bruins could do that for Nathan Horton."
The Bruins could do exactly that, with the veteran Recchi hoping for one more year in Boston. Yet with Recchi or without, Horton will be able to fit in with the Bruins' style of play.
"He's a monster," Edwards said. "He's got a killer instinct … He could be a very, very [good] — maybe even great — Bruin, but he needs some leadership. He needs an example … someone to say, 'This is how you need to play every day.'"
In his experience watching Horton, Edwards explained that "he's either been a dominating force, or sometimes he just disappears. If he's a dominating force, he's a really scary player."