Craig Smith has only known one home in the NHL since the Nashville Predators selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 Draft. After nine years in Nashville, Smith is leaving the Predators after agreeing to a free agent contract with the Boston Bruins.
Smith signs a three-year contract with the Bruins with an annual cap hit of $3.1 million. This is the second signing for Boston general manager Don Sweeney after he re-signed defenseman Kevan Miller Friday.
What Smith Brings to Boston
Smith was drafted 98th overall in 2009 by the Predators. He has been an excellent skater throughout his career and will be able to play in many different game situations for the Bruins. A right wing that can also play center, he was 10th in the league last season by generating nearly 12 shots on net per 60 minutes. Simply put, he’s not afraid to shoot and had 162 career goals for the Predators.
A 20-goal scorer in five of his nine years in the league, Smith finished with 18 goals and 13 assists this season playing in all of Nashville’s 69 regular-season games. If it was not for the league pause on March 12 because of the Coronavirus pandemic, he was on pace for another 20-goal season.
Related: THW’s Free Agency Tracker
A middle-six forward, Smith also will also give the Bruins some added power-play depth. He has 42 career power-play goals. He led Nashville in games played and ranked second in points and third in goals since he made his debut during the 2011-12 season.
At 31 years old, he was one of the Predators’ most consistent forwards this season. With linemates Nick Bonino and Rocco Grimaldi, they were fifth in the NHL in the regular season in goals scored. With his game not showing signs of a decline, one thing is for sure, his high-leverage shot will always be a key in his arsenal. He is more than capable of being a 40 to 50 point per season player.
Where He Fits in Boston
Smith has good hands, along with a good hockey sense and is an underrated passer. He will slot in somewhere in the middle-six for the Bruins and is a pickup that can make difference up front. At 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, he has the size and strength that the Bruins have been missing in their middle-six forwards. He was one of the players that has been on Sweeney’s radar as free agency was approaching.
The Bruins are in good shape with their top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, but secondary scoring was an issue all last season for Boston. Smith will slot in somewhere on the second or third line and he’s not afraid to shoot the puck. If he can be a 20-30 goal scorer for the Bruins, this is a good pickup by Sweeney at a good bargain.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.