Maple Leafs trade Clarkson to Blue Jackets for Horton

Ed Mulholland / USA TODAY Sports

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The David Clarkson era is over for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs traded Clarkson to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Nathan Horton on Thursday, swapping a player with a toxic contract for one who might not play another NHL game due to injuries.

Related: Could Clarkson trade alter Maple Leafs' scorched-earth plans?

Clarkson, who will turn 31 on March 31, has been a lightning rod for criticism since signing with Toronto in the 2013 offseason. He is under contract through the 2019-20 season at a cap hit of $5.25 million, but recorded just 15 goals and 26 points in 118 appearances with Toronto.

Related: Clarkson-Horton trade shakes the foundation of Hockey Twitter

"David Clarkson has been a 30-goal scorer in the NHL who will bring added character and leadership to our group and we believe he will be a valuable contributor to our team," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement.

It was the Blue Jackets who initiated trade talks with the Leafs about a potential Clarkson-for-Horton swap, tweeted ESPN's Craig Custance, and the deal took only days to put together, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

No salary was retained in the deal.

Clarkson, a healthy scratch at times this season, said his time in Toronto has been difficult, and if he had a do-over in free agency, he would have signed with the Edmonton Oilers, who reportedly offered him more money in the summer of 2013.

Horton, who will be 30 on May 29, has a contract very similar to Clarkson's, carrying a cap hit over $5 million through 2020. He has not skated in almost a year due to a nagging back injury but opted against surgery that would likely end his career.

"We would have been paying (Horton) $26 million the next five years to sit in the stands," said Kekalainen.

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Maple Leafs trade Clarkson to Blue Jackets for Horton
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