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Bruins trade Wideman, 15th overall, and future 3rd for Horton and Campbell

June 22, 2010

Nathan Horton adds some instant size and scoring depth on the wing.

After hearing of various trade rumors for a few days the Bruins finally made an off-season splash when they acquired Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Dennis Wideman, the Bruins first-round pick, and a third-round pick in 2011.

The deal came just four days after the Bruins named Cam Neely president and as the Bruins enter one of their most important off-season weeks in a long time. Horton, a 25-year-old forward, was selected 3rd overall in 2003 and has averaged over 23 goals per season in his six year career. Keep in mind that Horton averaged these numbers with very little help around him in Sunrise and could be the benefactor of heading to a better team and environment of stability in Boston. Horton had 20 goals and 37 assists in just 65 games last season as he moved from wing to center to accommodate the Panthers needs. His point total is greater than anyone on the Bruins roster last season despite Horton missing 17 games last year.

Horton is projected to be a right-winger in Boston, moving back to his natural position. Putting Horton back on the wing and with a good supporting cast should boost his goal numbers north of 25 next season. Horton does come with a $4 million cap hit for three more years which essentially negates Dennis Wideman’s cap hit.

The Bruins got another player in the deal in Gregory Campbell, a 26-year-old grinder type who should be able to give the Bruins a lot of what Steve Begin was supposed to. Campbell won’t fight and isn’t as physical as Begin but he does play a solid defensive game and will be looked upon on the penalty kill. He should fit in nicely to Claude Julien’s defensive-minded system.

You know when you’re more concerned with parting ways with a mid first-round draft pick than a defenseman that Dennis Wideman fell off greatly last season. The former top pair defenseman fell out of favor with Bruins management and fans alike following a terrible campaign. It was probably best for Wideman to get out of dodge and get a fresh start in another market.

But, are they any better?

Today, the Bruins got better. I don’t see any way around debating that. Dennis Wideman was a black hole for the Bruins last season and their offense was horrendous all season long. The way I see it, they didn’t lose much defensively, especially factoring in that they now have Dennis Seidenberg and will re-sign either Johnny Boychuk or Mark Stuart. Their offense got better instantly on a few fronts. Horton brings size, a little bit of toughness, and a guy who is a consistent scorer. Sure, the Bruins may be chasing a bit of potential but I’m willing to guess that if he puts up 20+ in FLA, he can do that here. Plus, Greg Campbell is an upgrade over Steve Begin in every single way.

Don’t expect this to be the last move the Bruins make before the Draft on Friday. I expect to see Thomas move sometime soon, perhaps to San Jose (who just said they wouldn’t re-sign Evgeni Nabokov). It also isn’t a secret that the Bruins want another top 10 pick. Although that will now be hard to swing, expect the Bruins to nibble at some of those teams.

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