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Nathan Horton, Dennis Wideman Swap Pays Huge Dividends For Bruins

Nathan Horton, who sent the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1990 with his goal in their 1-0 win over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, has proven himself to be a great acquisition.

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If you see Dennis Wideman walking around the streets of Washington, you might want to give him a big bear hug.

If it weren't for the trade sent Wideman to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Nathan Horton, the Boston Bruins may not be sitting four wins away from their first Stanley Cup in 37 years.

Horton proved his worth once again on Friday night, scoring the game-winning goal at 12:27 in Boston's 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, sending the Bruins back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1990.

While Horton hasn't been the only reason the Bruins are enjoying their best postseason run in years, he's been a huge factor. Horton has eight goals and nine assists in 18 games this postseason for Boston.

If there ever was any question as to which team got the better end of the deal (and I don't think there is), they've definitely been erased after Horton's heroic postseason performance, which has included three game-winning goals.

Horton, who finished the regular season with 26 goals and 27 assists, had his up and down moments this year, but has put forth a far better product than Wideman this year.

Wideman finished the 2010-11 season with a mere 10 goals and 30 assists in 75 games. Wideman played his first 61 games of the season before being traded to the Washington Capitals, where he scored one goal and had six assists in 14 games.

In addition to sending Wideman to the Panthers, the Bruins also sent a first round pick in the 2010 Early Entry draft, which Florida traded to the Los Angeles Kings. L.A. drafted Derek Forbort with the pick. Boston also traded a third round pick in the 2011 Early Entry draft to the Panthers.

We won't be able to stamp a final grade on the trade until we see how the careers of Wideman, Forbort and the Panthers' 2011 draft choice from the Bruins turn out, but for now, it's pretty clear who the early winner is.

With Horton in hand, Boston is on the verge of restoring honor to one of the greatest franchises in the history of hockey.