Born May 29, 1985 (age 26) in Welland, Ontario, Canada
Right winger for the Boston Bruins
Here’s another guy who’s been the subject of discussion lately. Nathan spent quite a bit of time in the peewee leagues in and around Welland. He moved up to the junors in style, playing with the Thorold Blackhawks and earning 47 points (16 goals and 31 assists) in 41 games. He got ballsy for the 2001 OHL draft, saying that if the Mississauga IceDogs were to draft him, he wouldn’t report to camp. Thankfully, he was drafted by the Oshawa Generals. He racked up 67 points (31 goals, 36 assists) in 64 games his rookie year, and another 68 points (33 goals, 35 assists) in 54 games the next year.
Nathan was considered a top prospect going into the 2003 NHL draft, and the Florida Panthers picked him third overall behind Marc-Andre Fleury and Eric Staal. He signed with the team in October 2003 and scored his first NHL goal in November against the San Jose Sharks. He then became the first rookie in NHL history to score a goal on a penalty shot, doing so against the Flyers on January 9, 2004 (Jordan Staal would take that title three seasons later). But a shoulder injury plagued him for the rest of the season, and he only scored 22 points in 55 games.
In the Year That Never Was, he ended up playing with Florida’s AHL team, the San Antonio Rampage. He ended up hurting his other shoulder in a fight, and he only played 21 games. But when he came back to the Panthers, he felt better than ever and scored 28 goals, which got him promoted to the first line. He kept it up the next season, being put on a first line with Finns Olli Jokinen and Ville Peltonen (they called him Nathan Hortonen to blend in with the Finnish names). He signed a six-year deal with the Panthers in 2007, but the next three seasons saw his goals slump. After suffering a cut leg and a finger injury that required surgery in the 2008-09 season, he struggled one more season before being traded to the Boston Bruins along with Gregory Campbell in June 2010.
The move to Boston was just what he needed – he scored 7 goals and 6 assists in the first 12 games of the season. He even ended the season second on the team in goals (26) and fourth in assists (27). In the playoffs, he scored game-winning overtime goals in two games against the Montreal Canadiens and the lone goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But it was the awful hit by Aaron Rome in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals that knocked him unconscious and kept him out of the rest of the finals – don’t worry, Rome was given a four-game suspension that took him out of the finals as well. The most poignant scene of the series was when he suited up after the Bruins won the Cup and skated out onto the ice to hoist it high.
Late this summer, Nathan announced that he was concussion-symptom free, meaning he should be on the ice for the season. We can’t wait to see what he does this year!