Nathan Horton has a degenerative back condition

(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)
(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is correct when he says that Nathan Horton “is probably more frustrated than anybody right now as far as trying to find a way to get stronger and get back to being able to play again.”

The guy is a competitor and the Blue Jackets are a burgeoning contender.

But he’s also a 29-year-old forward with a degenerative back condition.

Kekalainen told Puck-Rakers it’s one that affects many hockey players, but not many players have 7-year, $37.1-million contracts like Horton does.

From Puck-Rakers:

Kekalainen today reiterated that Horton’s injury is one that the club believes can be remedied by a continued course of core strengthening. It is not clear when Horton might be able to resume hockey activities, and no one with knowledge of the injury has ventured to even guess at a timetable.

“It’s about getting stronger and managing the pain by getting stronger in the core. Then your back gets stronger and the pain will go away. (He) is the only person that really knows where he is at and how much pain there is involved. It’s impossible for anybody else to know what he is going through right now. He is suffering.”

The good news for the Jackets is that they know they can be a playoff team without him.

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The question has always been how much better they could be with Horton, who can be a 30-goal scorer and has 36 points in 43 playoff games.