Craig Smith Season Preview: How Will He Respond to a Dreadful 2013?

Gregory Shamus

Smith followed up a strong rookie campaign with a ghastly season we'd like to forget. But which one is more evident of the player he'll become?

Craig Smith has become somewhat of a polarizing figure in Nashville these days.  To some, he's a prospect that has shown glimpses of being a solid player, but hasn't quite made that next step yet. To others, he's a disappointment that isn't living up to his potential, and this season is going to be his last in gold and blue if he doesn't hack it.

Is that really fair, though?


Craig Smith

#15 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators

6-1

202

Sep 05, 1989

Salary: $2M/year through 2014-15


Season GP 5on5 TOI/Gm 5on5 Pts/60 Corsi Rel On-Ice Sht % On-Ice Sv% PDO Pen Take Pen Drawn OZ Strt% Shots/60
2013 44 11.75 0.58 -4.3 5.2 908 961 1.0 0.8 44.3 8.12
2012 72 11.67 1.64 +3.4 7.7 916 992 1.0 0.7 50.8 9.43

We already took a look at Ryan Ellis, and what he needs to do this year. Smith, the 98th overall pick in 2009, has only played 116 games in the NHL Total. That's less than a season and a half. Seems like a lot longer, doesn't it?

After putting up 36 points in his first 77 games as a Predator, the Wisconsin native fell into the dreaded sophomore slump this past season. He hit twine just four times in 44 games, and only registered 12 points. It wasn't the follow up many of us were hoping for. Some of the drop off can be attributed to the fact that in 2011-12, the Predators were scoring 2.83 goal per game, good for 8th in the league. Last year, they were dead last with a number that will only depress you. That certainly doesn't help a young player's development.

When top players are injured or underperforming, it's up to those farther down the depth chart to pick up the slack. Usually, the ship rights itself after a few weeks. But when it continues to sink, it will bring players down with it. Don't forget how much of a disappointment Sergei Kostitsyn was, or that Martin Erat also only had four goals in his last campaign in a Predator uniform. Yes, it's frustrating when Smith has shown what he's capable of, but he is also very much still figuring out his game.

The good news is that he made quite a splash at this year's World Championships, scoring 14 points in 10 games and helping the US team to a bronze medal. So far in the preseason, he is 1-2-3 in the three games he's played in, and been a positive Corsi player so far.

Depending on how the injuries shake out - it's depressing to be talking about injuries before the season has even started - we should expect him to start the season on the third line. However, depending on the seriousness of the Forsberg/Hornqvist problems, don't be surprised to see him move up to second line duty for a bit until people get healthy.

Realistically, assuming the offense can't be as terrible as it was last year (knock on all the wood) fans should be pleased if he breaks 35 points. The kid is still young, and still has a lot to prove. One bad half-season does not a career make. What matters is how he responds to it. Who knows, he just may surprise all of us this year.

Stats Table Explanation

  • GP: Games Played
  • 5on5 TOI/Gm: Ice Time per game in 5-on-5 play
  • 5on5 Pts/60: Points earned (goals & assists) per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play
  • Corsi Rel: The shift in the balance of Total Shots For & Against when that player is on the ice during 5-on-5 play, as opposed to when he is on the bench. Total Shots = Shots on Goal + Missed Shots + Blocked Shots. Represents an individual's influence on the flow of play.
  • On-Ice Sht %: The team's shooting percentage when that individual is on the ice during 5-on-5 play. Generally, individuals have little to no influence on this number, which can bounce around randomly from season to season.
  • On-Ice Sv%: The team's save percentage while that individual is on the ice in 5-no-5 play. Again, individual's usually have very little influence on this number.
  • PDO: The sum of On-Ice Sht% and On-Ice Sv%, this trends very strongly to 1000 over the long run for almost all players. High values indicate fortunate "puck luck", low values the opposite.
  • Pen Take: Penalties committed by that player per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time.
  • Pen Drawn: Penalties committed by opponents, but drawn by that player (creating power plays for him team) per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time.
  • OZ Strt%: Offensive Zone Start %, the percentage of non-neutral zone faceoffs that player is on the ice for which are in the offensive zone. A measure of how a player is deployed by his coach.
  • Shots/60: Shots on goal taken by that player per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time.

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