Nathan Horton, Dennis Wideman Square Off for Final Time this Season After Swapping Spots This Summer

Nathan Horton, Dennis Wideman Square Off for Final Time this Season After Swapping Spots This Summer It takes a lot longer than just over half a season to truly evaluate a trade, especially one with draft picks involved.

But Bruins fans will at least get a bit of a status report on the club's biggest move last summer when the Panthers make their final visit to Boston this season on Wednesday. That means another return to the Garden for defenseman Dennis Wideman, and another matchup against their former team for Bruins forwards Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell.

Horton and Campbell came to Boston in June in exchange for Wideman, the Bruins' 2010 first-round pick (15th overall) and a 2011 third-rounder. The Panthers continued to wheel and deal throughout the draft, trading that 15th pick to Los Angeles for No. 19 and a second-rounder (59th overall), then shipping the second-rounder to Minnesota for a third (69th) and a fourth (99th).

Florida ended up with center Nick Bjugstad at No. 19, landing a promising young forward at the University of Minnesota who played a key role on Team USA's bronze-medal finish at the World Junior Championships, and added right wings Joe Basaraba and Joonas Donskoi with the later picks.

It will take several years before the impact of those players can be evaluated, but the early returns on the veterans involved in the deal have been mixed.

Horton started his Bruins career on fire with 8-10-18 totals in his first 17 games, but he's had just 4-6-10 totals in the 30 games since, with only one goal in his 19 games and none in his last nine.

"I think now his confidence is probably at the lowest it's ever been because he understands that he needs to score and it's not happening," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Horton before leaving for this week's two-game trip out West. "I think he's putting a lot of pressure on himself, which may not be helping him right now."

While Horton has struggled, Campbell has exceeded all expectations. He has 7-11-18 totals in 47 games, including 4-5-9 over his last nine games. The offensive production has been a nice bonus for a player who managed just 17 points all of last season, but it's Campbell's contributions in other areas that make him truly valuable.

"Soupy is one of those guys that leads by example," Julien said. "Every game you get a guy that's going to work hard, give you everything he's got."

Campbell has been a mainstay on the penalty kill and helped make Boston's fourth line the team's most consistent and effective unit all season. While just 6-foot, 197 pounds, Campbell has also shown a willingness to get involved physically, with 69 hits and six fighting majors. Most of those bouts have been well timed, including Saturday's early battle with Cody McLeod that helped spark the Bruins to a 6-2 win in Colorado.

"I had seen him playing a lot, playing against him," Julien said. "I always thought he was a real good player, but to be honest with you, he's an even better player than I had seen. When you see him every day and you see what he brings night after night, you learn to appreciate him even more."

The Panthers are learning to appreciate Wideman as well. He needed a change of scenery after drawing Boston fans' wrath as he struggled throughout much of the 2009-10 season. Wideman has bounced back this season in Florida, posting 6-19-25 totals in 48 games. He is a minus-16, but also has 77 blocked shots and five of Florida's 19 power-play goals this year.

"He was real good lately,'' Panthers coach Pete DeBoer told the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. "He's had ebbs and flows. When offensive defensemen are off their game it's evident to everyone. If a defensive defenseman is off it doesn't get noticed, but a guy like that's got his puck on his stick a lot, so we're the first one to say, 'Hey, he's not at the top of his game.' He's been pretty good all year and has given us what we expected. He's a valuable part of our team.''

The Bruins may have found a successor to Wideman in the offensive defenseman role with the emergence of talented rookie Steven Kampfer, who has four goals himself in just 23 games. And even without Wideman, the Bruins have so much depth on the blue line that they've made veteran Mark Stuart a healthy scratch the last two games.

While it will take years to fully evaluate all the parts of this trade, at this point it appears to be a classic deal benefitting both teams, though the Bruins will certainly feel even better about it once Horton regains his scoring touch.