It's been known for almost two weeks that Wisconsin junior forward Craig Smith would be forgoing his final two seasons of eligibility with the Badgers to sign with the Nashville Predators, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Draft (98th overall). Today the Predators made it official announcing the signing of Smith to a two year contract. Details of the contract were not available at the time of this post. Here's the press release from the team:
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed 2009 fourth-round pick (98th overall) Craig Smith to a two-year entry level contract.
Smith, 21 (9/5/89), turns pro after spending the past two seasons at the University of Wisconsin, amassing 76 points (27g-49a) and 159 penalty minutes in 82 games. The Madison, Wis., native ranked ninth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in goals (19), tied for 11th in conference scoring (19g-24a-43pts) in 2010-11, in addition to tying for fourth in game-winning goals (5), and sixth in power-play points (8g-15a-23pts). As a freshman in 2009-10, Smith helped the Badgers advance to the 2010 NCAA National Championship Game (on a team that also included current Predator Blake Geoffrion) and was named to the WCHA All-Rookie team after finishing ninth in NCAA freshman scoring (8g-25a-33pts). He also joins defenseman Ryan Suter as UW Badgers in the Predators organization.
The 6-1, 197-pound center made his international tournament debut for the United States this past May as one of two underclassmen named to the country’s entry at the 2011 World Championships. Smith went on to be named one of Team USA’s three best players of the tournament after leading the team in goals (3) and ranking second in points (6) in seven tournament games.
Smith should compete for a spot on the big club straight out of training camp but most likely will spend much of the first half of the season getting acclimated to the pro game with their top farm club, the Milwaukee Admirals. Smith should get a call to the big club at some point in the season where he should see some familiar faces. Former Badgers Blake Geoffrion who played on a line with Smith for much of the 2010 Frozen Four season and Ryan Suter are both emerging stars for the Predators.
From all of Bucky's 5th Quarter family we wish Craig the best in professional hockey.
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