There was no shortage of disappointment for this Nashville Predators team, up and down the ice. A lack of production from their forwards, a down year from Shea Weber, and the collapse of an overworked Pekka Rinne all caught up with the Preds and sent them to the golf course much earlier than they had hoped.
Heading into the new season, there will be a few players that need to rebound for the Preds, with names like Weber and Rinne being no exception. But they especially need some of their offensive players to step up and produce regularly, perhaps none more than Craig Smith.
Smith was an immense disappointment for the Predators in 2013, his second season with the club. Coming off of a very solid rookie campaign, the former fourth round pick experienced a gigantic letdown in 2013. All of the good from his rookie season, which concluded with a contract extension, seemed to disappear.
The rookie campaign for Craig Smith featured 36 points, including 14 goals, in 72 games. Thirteen of his points came with the Preds on the man advantage. That play earned him a two-year, $4 million extension, which goes into effect next year. A year later, Smith is in need of a major rebound.
In a shortened season that saw Smith play in 44 of 48 games, he had only 12 points for the entire year, including only four goals. He had a minus-11 rating for the year. However, if there is a positive, it’s the fact that he went on to play in Worlds, finishing with 14 points in 10 games.
Perhaps that momentum gained from the World Championships will help Smith to rebound next year. Maybe some more offensive talent around him will help the young playmaker to take a step forward, instead of a giant one back. Either way, if the Preds are going to get back into the postseason next year, they’ll need much more from Craig Smith.