Good news out of Boston today as it appears that Nathan Horton will be ready to return for the 2012-13 NHL season, should there be one.

It’s difficult to understate the impact Horton has on the Bruins lineup. Even though I believed that the Capitals had enough on their own merit to dispatch the Bruins in round one, the series would have been drastically different with Horton in the lineup. He is a true top six talent for Boston and brings grit at both ends of the ice.

Teams like to talk about guys that make them hard to play against. Nathan Horton makes your team hard to play against.

A potential Horton return also influences Boston’s activity this offseason. Obviously teams ought to be reluctant to tie their cart to a player with pronounced concussion history, but this is an interesting scenario. Boston has been linked to Rick Nash, among others, this offseason and appear to be working hard to improve their top-end talent. The Bruins are very deep, but the number of true game breakers they have beyond Zdeno Chara is minimal. Horton isn’t a superstar but he makes the need much less pressing.

Getting Horton back is a big boost going forward for the Bruins and only gets better if he stays healthy. Until they know for sure, they’ll be forced to make a decision over whether or not they ought to chase the big names.