Craig Smith Signs/The Badger Connection

Tuesday, 07.26.2011 / 2:37 PM
By Tom Callahan - Nashville Predators / Tom Callahan's Summer 2011 Blog
Nashville Predators prospect and now former Wisconsin Badger Craig Smith announced he would unfurl his sails on a pro career this fall, forgoing his final two years of college eligibility. The club announced it has signed Smith to a two-year entry-level deal.

What that means in the short-term is that Smith will be in training camp and fighting for a spot in Nashville or (more likely) Milwaukee come fall. Originally I began writing this before having a chance to chat with Smith and could only speculate on why after feeling so strongly that he would return to Wisconsin in the fall just weeks ago he had changed his mind. On a Tuesday conference call, Smith tried to answer that question as best he could.

“It’s been so many things, I can’t say there was just one major thing that made me decide to go pro… I just felt comfortable with the decision and my ability to do it.”

Smith talked about life and career goals, consulting not only his family but friends who had made that very same jump from college to pro. Although he knows each situation is different from person to person, in the end Smith decided that his college career coupled with his World Championships experience was enough to persuade him to make the jump.

At Wisconsin, Smith came in with some obvious talent, but said that where things really came together for him under the tutelage of head coach Mike Eaves were the details in his game.

“So much of what I learned there was about the mental game. Staying positive no matter what the situation, and reacting to things that happen during games.”

That quote sounds like it could have come from a possible future coach for Smith in Barry Trotz. Trotz forever talks about details in his players’ games, and much of that comes down not to physical skill but mental preparedness. Perhaps Smith will find that he could be a good fit with the Predators mindset.

One of the buddies Smith leaned on was current Preds forward Blake Geoffrion, who can give probably the best picture of exactly what to expect from the Preds organization. Keep in mind, not only did these two play on the same squad, but Smith and Geoffrion were linemates.

“I’m pretty excited at the prospect of playing with Blake again,” Smith said. “He and I had a pretty good chemistry together.”

Now wouldn’t that be interesting?

Smith showed that he can compete with men on a pro level at this year’s World Championships, scoring three goals and six points with a +2 rating as the US Men reached the quarterfinal against the Czech Republic. Now the real question will be making that jump full-time, competing on a pro level not only for one tournament, but an entire season.

Regardless of where Smith ends up playing this season, he appears to be yet another feather in the cap for the Predators organization and someone to keep an eye on for years to come.

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.


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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
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