But in six NHL seasons, Horton has cracked the 30-goal plateau only once and never fully reached that potential or turned into the power forward the Panthers believed the 6-foot-2, 229-pound winger could be.
There have been numerous claims that Horton lacks the desire and dedication to reach his potential and that question mark of character. That, and the fact that Horton requesting a trade was the reason why the Panthers finally decided to part ways with him.
But Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli isn’t scared of such accusations and believes that Horton can become the superstar so many pegged him to be.
"There seems to be a thread out there saying that he’s, I don’t know if you want to call it a neutral-character or whatever. What I know, what our research shows, what our due diligence shows is that he’s a good person, he competes," Chiarelli said Wednesday. "I guess occasionally he’s … and that’s what’s grown into this thread, so to speak. But he’s a big-bodied kid. He can skate, he can shoot. He’s only 25. And he’s what we’re looking for."
A former Florida pro scout confirmed there were character issues in the eyes of the Panthers organization, but that same scout still sees a kid finding his way and says his full potential can be reached.
"He’s really a good kid and there were lots of other team issues so-to-speak," the scout said. "I like Nathan the person and I really like the player he is and can be. I think Boston got a good deal and a real scoring threat that they obviously needed. His physical game will be a crowd-pleaser for sure in Boston."
Chiarelli was impressed by those very attributes and that made it a no-brainer when he realized a trade for Horton could be consummated.
"He's a tremendous shooter, Nathan. He's a big body, he can skate, he can play physical," Chiarelli said. "There's a lot of things to like about him, and we're going to be getting a highly skilled forward with the No. 2 pick with some speed.
"We think at the end of the day, if we do nothing else to our forwards, we're adding an established big power-forward shooter and a real speedy young legs skill guy [Gregory Campbell]. We're happy with that. We had to do it."