Predators Hot Seat: Craig Smith
Craig Smith skating up the wing against the Washington Capitals. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Hello readers of thehockeyhouse.net. My name is Jordan Cimini, and I am a blogger for the Nashville Predators. I am from the Nashville area so the Predators have always been the team to root for. As a southern team in a northern sport, its been exciting to watch this team mature both in terms of fan support and great play on the ice.
The Nashville Predators went out and put up a 7-1 record during the preseason, sweeping teams like the Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals, and the Carolina Hurricanes. I got to see every home preseason game and a player that was fighting for a roster spot as a center/forward was Craig Smith. He clinched his spot on the team with a game winning goal in the last seconds of overtime against Carolina. Before the Predators Development Camp that was held during the summer, Craig was slated to be playing for the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA. After it was mentioned by Preds general manager David Poile that he had a chance to make the Preds roster, he turned pro and gave up his final year of college hockey.
As the Predators Rookie Camp moved along, the Predators rookies went down to Sunrise, FL to play the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers prospects. After the first game against Tampa’s prospects, Craig would put up 4 goals, and an assist in a 7-3 preds win. The next day as they faced the Panthers prospects, he would score 2 more goals as the preds would defeat the panthers prospects 3-1. With the results he put up in these two games, he gave both coaches and fans high hopes that he could continue his impressive play into the preseason where he would have to play against NHL pro’s.
As the preseason rolled along, I noticed things that I was very impressed with about him. He is not afraid to shoot the puck. In the 4 games that he played in the preseason, he averaged around 3 shots a game with 2 of those games having 4 shots on the net. Another thing that impressed me about him was that he seemed to be up to the pace of his linemates like Martin Erat, Sergei Kostitsyn and Collin Wilson. Then in the last game (against Carolina) to seal his entry into the big league, Craig would take a broken play in the last seconds of overtime and convert it with a wrister going past Brian Boucher and score to win the game for the Predators. It would be his only goal of the preseason, but what a way to cap off his impressive NHL start.
After the game Barry Trotz announced during the post game press conference that Craig Smith would not be sent down to Milwaukee, but instead be on the opening day roster.