Craig Smith did not live up to the expectations that saw him receive a contract extension for the next two seasons. Something hasn’t been quite right since Groundhog Day in 2012 where he went on to score only 5 points in 22 games. Hopefully the sophomore slump is over and the Predators get the Craig Smith that was tearing it up in the IIHF World Championships for Team USA this summer.
From Then to Now
Craig Smith probably has the most potential on the Predators roster and the comparisons to Colin Wilson were plenty this year. A conditioning assignment in Milwaukee didn’t seem to bolster any of Smith’s numbers, though. In 2011-2012, Smith scored 14 goals and 36 points in 72 games. Whereas this season, Smith only amassed four goals and 12 points. In relation, Smith didn’t even reach a third of his output from the year before.
Beyond the Stats
Smith isn’t afraid to put shots on net, landing him second in shots on goal for all Predators forwards. Yet, with only four goals scored, his shooting percentage was a paltry 4.8. Also, his Corsi numbers weren’t great as he had the third lowest rating among Nashville forwards who played over 30 games.
Predator Smith Vs. Team USA Smith
The Craig Smith that Nashville fans saw this year was a watered down version of the potential Craig Smith can bring to a team. Case in point: his performance at the World Championships. In 44 games with the Predators in 2012-2013, Smith had 12 points….in ten games against some of the World’s best competition, he had 14 points. 14 POINTS IN TEN GAMES
What does this performance mean for the Predators?
While his play at the IIHF Tournament was awe-inspiring, it can be viewed as a double-edged sword for Nashville. If Smith has that kind of potential and offensive skill, why didn’t it show during this season? Will having Phil Housley behind the bench (who coached Team USA this season at the World’s and Team USA Juniors when Smith played) help elevate Smith’s game?
FINAL GRADE: C-
He played “meh” for the majority of the season, but it is troublesome how Smith was able to all of a sudden explode for more points than his entire season in just ten short games. This either points to a lack of effort from Smith in his second year with the Predators, or the change of scenery and coaching style employed by the US squad helped him find his game (granted he also had better weapons to work with on the national team, as well). Hopefully, Housley will be the common denominator in Craig Smith’s hopeful resurgence that Nashville fans could be graced with over the next two years.