Horton’s arrival could mean show time or dog show

Take Savard or either of the other two centers out of the equation, you suddenly have a ripple effect. Vladimir Sobotka, Zach Hamill or Joe Colborne is suddenly in a top-nine roll, and Tyler Seguin (Boston’s likely pick at No. 2 Friday) is asked to carry the load as a teenaged NHL rookie at center. There’s nothing wrong with starting Seguin out on the wing – with less responsibility and more of a chance to utilize his speed – alongside one of the Bruins’ three center stalwarts. And Horton would definitely benefit from playing in a forward corps that’s overflowing with talent rather than one that was compromised for the sake of upgrading a defense group that has been one of the best in the league the last two years.

Horton can also better make a positive mark in black and gold if he (along with Seguin) is insulated by the strongest leadership group possible. That, of course, starts with the return of Recchi as a free agent and continues through to Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara, Bergeron and even Andrew Ference. The Bruins are intent on infusing their lineup with more youth, but a truly Stanley Cup-worthy team would be best to limit the rookie influence to just Seguin, and then add as many grizzled vets as possible to the young nucleus. While guys like Krejci and Mark Stuart (if re-signed) are considered veterans, they’re still in their mid-20s and honing their skills.

The Bruins shouldn’t ask too much of Horton. In Florida, just the fact that he was one of the Panthers’ best players thrust him into a leadership role. The Bruins should tell him, “score some goals, knock some heads and leave the leading to others.” Anyone that’s tried to drive, eat and make a cell phone call knows how hard multi-tasking is. Scoring goals and playing solid defense should be enough to fill Horton’s assignment list as he starts out in a Bruins uniform.

That Wideman had obviously worn out his welcome and the Bruins were able to get a potential piece of the puzzle in return is great. That Chiarelli says he can still get one of his targeted players at this weekend’s draft without having the No. 15 pick (they pick next at 32) is excellent news as well. However, there’s only one way this trade proves to be a winner. If the Bruins provide Horton with the tools to succeed and then he plays with the passion and purpose that would make him the player the Bruins envisioned when they closed the deal with Florida Tuesday.

Otherwise, they’ll still just be a team with a lot of bark and a weak bite.

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