After incredibly consistent play over the past three years, fans had every reason to believe that Craig Smith deserved every penny of his contract.
Last year on his Player Report Card, he was hailed as “Mr. Consistency”. Mr. Consistency is a guy you can always depend on and you always know what you’re getting. Usually with Craig Smith, what you’ll get is 20+ goals. Surely we can depend on him for the same contribution...right?
Not only did his goal production drop dramatically, he also took less shots than ever and had more of them blocked than ever before. (Well, that’s a bit of a lie, he had three more shots blocked in the 14-15 season, but he took nearly 100 more that year.) Of course, goals aren’t all that matters, good forwards can also have a huge impact with assists, right? Perhaps he spent a good chunk of the season setting his line up for goals.
Okay, so he actually had one more assist than the year before, but that doesn’t really make up for the dramatic drop in goals. This begs the question, what happened? Let’s take a look at this chart:
Smith spent the majority of the first half of the season with Mike Ribeiro. It would be nice to attribute some of these stats to this pairing, but he spent the second half of the season with Mike Fisher. Was there a major change after being paired up with the Captain?
A few more assists and a lot less goals. If anything, he got a little bit better at making goals happen and all but stopped scoring them himself. It would also be worth nothing that while his overall ice time didn’t decrease much, he spent significantly less time on the power play and thus missed out on many scoring opportunities.
Worst Moment of the Season
If the decreased production wasn’t bad enough, the worst moment of the season would have to be the high ankle sprain that kept him off the ice for a huge chunk of the playoffs. As injuries began to mount, it would have been nice to have him around and healthy. Of course, the playoffs are always a great opportunity for a struggling player to have their moment in the spotlight. Of course, this brings us to the...
Best Moment of the Season
Remember this? I do. Smith made Murray look like a lost puppy while Kessel’s skate got the primary assist and Kunitz got the secondary. The crowd went wild, we further demoralized the Penguins, and everybody got to yell at Murray...again! I, for one, wept tears of joy and everyone in my house felt like all was right in the world again. This was also when my two year old son learned to wave a rally towel and discovered that all shouting isn’t bad. (We ARE all Smiths at my house, by the way)
Trending Up or Down?
My God, it breaks my heart to say this after watching that goal again, but he’s trending down. For the money he got paid (4 MILLION), you would’ve expected him to have a much better year. Mike Fisher, who also made four big ones last year, had six more goals and seven more assists than Smith. He’s going to need to come back strong next year and make real contributions or we will start looking at other options for that big cap hit.
Final Grade: B-/C+
Look, I’m a teacher. If I take into consideration the Ribeiro pairing, I can make a solid argument for a B-. Of course, when I look at the failure to improve after Ribeiro’s departure, I can’t make any excuses for his average play. He was consistent all year, but not the kind of consistency we’re looking for! (and I really hate to say it because I’m a Smith, too! We can work it out at the family reunion, right Craig?)
How would you grade Craig Smith’s performance this season?
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