With the season now over, it's time to take a look back and examine each player's individual performance. We'll briefly break it down, and then offer a letter grade for the year. It's report cards, Nashville Predators-style, from Blum to Wilson. Next up: Jerred Smithson. We're shuffling the order just a little bit this week.
|2010 - Jerred Smithson||82||5||8||13||-6||34||0||0||0||73|
Today's report card is brought to you by Robby Stanley, of Hockey Night In Nashville:
I've grown up with the Nashville Predators and have been a die-hard fan since I was 6 years old. I've gone from being scared of the goal horn as a 6 year old kid to it being my favorite sound on the planet. I have a blog called Hockey Night in Nashville and I can be followed on Twitter @hockeynightNSH.
The Skinny: Head coach Barry Trotz has a phrase that he often uses to describe the success of his team. He calls it "The Predator way." Smithson embodies that phrase. He was undrafted and spent the early days of his NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings organization from 2001-2004. Since then, he's been with the Nashville organization and has been a consistent player for the Predators since the 2005-2006 season. Smithson is a great asset on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle. He plays a gritty game, and works as hard as any player on the roster. Smithson also brings a physical style of play to his game from time to time. While it's true that he's not known for possessing dazzling offensive capability, Smithson has scored a few beautiful goals during his career.
The Performance: Smithson's defining moment of the 2010-2011 season came in Game 5 in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Anaheim Ducks. He scored the biggest goal in, arguably, the history of the franchise. His game-winner in overtime against the Ducks propelled Nashville to their first ever playoff series win. During the regular season, however, it was the small things that made Smithson very valuable.
Smithson won 57.4% of his faceoffs, which was tied with Ryan Kesler for 6th best in the league. He averaged 2:44 of ice time per game while the Predators were short-handed, which was the most among forwards for the team during the regular season. In a stat that shows how much trouble the Predators had with injuries throughout the year, Smithson was one of only four players(Mike Fisher, Shea Weber, Colin Wilson) for Nashville that played in all 82 regular season games. Defensively, Smithson showed the ability to shut down the opponent's top line. Above all, there simply isn't a player on Nashville's roster that has more heart than Smithson does.
General Manager David Poile noticed how valuable Smithson is to the team, and signed him to a two-year, $1.6 million contract during the middle of the season. The Nashville Predators organization knows what they have in Smithson. He's a guy that will go out on the ice and give you everything he's got for the entire time he's out there. What's often overlooked is how smart Smithson is as a hockey player. He's very gifted at making good decisions that often go unnoticed during a game. He demonstrated that high hockey IQ on a nightly basis throughout the course of the season.
The Grade: Grading someone like Smithson can't be based solely on his offensive output during the course of the regular season. There are so many intangibles to Smithson's game that make him extremely valuable to the Preds. He's a guy that suits up every night and does whatever the coaching staff asks him to do, and he doesn't complain about it. He's not afraid to go to the hard areas and win battles for the puck. Every team needs a guy like Smithson. A-