Our series continues to #25. Though we only have three candidates, this is the most popular number amongst Russian players who have ever donned a Predators jersey.
The first Sergei to have played for the Predators joined the team in the 98-99 season after a stint with the Russian Olympic squad in Nagano, Japan, which made it all the way to the gold medal game before losing 1-0 to the Czech Republic. Krivoskrasov proved to be a very important addition for the Preds, scoring 25 goals and 48 points during his first season with them. He set team records not only for most scored goals scored, but most powerplay goals registered (10). He also served as their representative at the 1999 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa. The next season was not as productive for Krivoskrasov, scoring only 9 goals, 17 points, and accumulating a -7 +/-rating. Upper management decided to dump Krivoskrasov at the Trade Deadline, trading him to the Calgary Flames for Cale Hulse and a third-round selection in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
The first Denis to play for the Predators (the second being Denis Grebeshkov), Arkhipov was selected 60th overall in the third round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. In his first season for the Preds, he split his time with between Nashville and Milwaukee before becoming a regular in Music City the following season. He played in all 82 games with a career high of 20 goals and 42 points. He ended up leading the Predators in goals, game-winning goals (6) and shooting percentage (16.9%). Arkhipov centered the "Vowel Line" which also included, Vladimír Országh on right wing, and Martin Erat at left wing. Arkhipov continued two more seasons with the Predators, scoring 20 goals and 56 points during that span. When the NHL Lockout hit the following season, Arkhipov returned to his homeland for a year before signing as a free agent with the Chicago Blackhawks. He would never reach the same level he had attained with the Predators.
Smithson spent a greater length of time (approximately 8 seasons) with the Predators organization than our other two candidates, coming from the Los Angeles Kings in the offseason before the NHL Lockout. After a season with the Admirals, Smithson was quickly promoted to 501 Broadway. In 8 seasons with the Predators, he amassed 35 goals and 81 points, proving himself to be a reliable and prudent checker. Smithson's claim to fame, of course, is scoring the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs to beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. This milestone entirely changed the Predators' destiny, as this was the first Game 5 they had ever won in the Playoffs, the first game they had ever won in overtime in the Playoffs, and the first time they were going back home ahead 3-2. This win gave the Predators the confidence to finish off Anaheim the following game and proceed to play in the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history. After 53 games in the 11-12 season, Smithson was traded to the Florida Panthers for a 2012 6th round draft pick due to a slump in his productivity.