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A Dangerous and Deceptive 3rd Line: Craig Smith


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Photo by Frederick Breedon/NHLI via Getty Images

There was one current theme running through all the video clips that Kris has been posting in his Predator Top Ten List and that is the speed and reckless abandon in which Craig Smith plays every shift. While it may be a long shot that Smith will center the third line and make my premonition of the fastest (and possibly youngest) energy line in the NHL coming true, Smith incorporates all the things that mirror the attributes of Colin Wilson. These two forwards make the center core of the Predators one of the deepest and most talented in the NHL.

Craig Smith was 8th in rookie scoring last season and the Predators will be looking at him to not have the dreaded sophomore-slump. Many times last season, Craig Smith was called upon to handle time on the PP and he answered with 6 PPG, second most behind Cody Hodgson (he tied with Calder winner Gabriel Landeskog).

Craig Smith is not afraid to shoot the puck either ranking third amongst rookies in shots taken. A nose for the net is sorely needed in the third line with Bourque and Halischuk flanking him. All three have the ability to create space with their quickness and distribute as needed for goal scoring opportunities. Although Craig Smith was on a tear before the infamous empty-net fiasco where he shot the puck over the net with no one around him, Smith will find a way to shake off the freshman jitters and come away with an amazing second year performance.

Maybe the best attribute of Craig Smith and his offensive abilities is the question of whether or not he could play top line minutes in case of injury. He has proven he can play the wing if needed and if his power play acumen is any indicator of top line success, then the Predators have a great stream of young talent down the center with the versatility of playing the other forward positions.

The Predators have been fortunate enough to retain the majority of the talent that took them to a 4th place finish in the West and past arch-rival Detroit into another second round playoff berth. The loss of Suter on the back end will be felt and from a fan perspective the loss of Tootoo will be palpable, but through the Predators farm system and an uncanny knack of finding late-round talent, the Predators are set to make another solid season out of 2012-2013. Having the deceptive and dangerous third line of Bourque/Smith/Halischuk will certainly help.

Erat/Fisher/Kostitsyn

Wilson/Legwand/Hornqvist

Bourque/Smith/Halischuk

Spaling/Gaustad/Yip

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Agree or Disagree with my line-up? Think Smith or even Bourque are too good to be floundering on the third line? Feel free to comment below and follow us on Twitter @ThePredatorial and @Preducated

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