Craig Smith
Craig Smith
29-Year-Old Right WingRW
Nashville Predators
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Coming into the 2016-17 season, Smith's future in Nashville looked uncertain. Once considered to be one of the Predators' top offensive weapons – he finished third in team scoring in 2013-14 with 52 points – Smith's production was on a sharp downswing. He finished the 2016-17 season with just 29 points – his third straight year of declining production. Not even the Golden Knights wanted him, as the Preds left him unprotected in the expansion draft, and he went untouched. However, a sharp turnaround would soon materialize, as the Preds traded for center Kyle Turris in November, and put him on a line with Smith and Kevin Fiala. The “SmurF” line went on to record a combined 129 points over the remainder of the regular season, making them one of the most productive second units in the NHL. For the season as a whole, Smith finished with 51 points in 79 games, just one point shy of his aforementioned career high. Assuming the Preds keep their second line together, look for more of the same from Smith this season as his career turnaround continues. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a five-year, $21.25 million contract extension with the Predators in July 2015.
Nets game-winner
RWNashville Predators
March 14, 2019
Smith scored his 19th goal of the season in Thursday's 3-1 win over the Kings.
ANALYSIS
The goal turned out to be the game-winner as Pekka Rinne held strong in the crease for the Predators. Smith had three shots and went plus-2 in the contest. He's at 32 points in 66 appearances this season, as well as 188 shots. The third-liner also sees traces of power-play time, where he has picked up seven of his points this year.
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2018–19 Time On Ice Stats
  • Average Time On Ice:
    15:09
  • Average Power Play TOI:
    2:36
  • Average Short-Handed TOI:
    0:01
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2016–17
13:49
1:06
0:01
2017–18
15:23
2:21
0:00
2018–19
15:09
2:36
0:01
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
A 52-point scorer for the Preds in 2013-14, Smith has seen his output decline for three straight seasons, including failing to crack the 30-point plateau in 2016-17 (12 goals, 17 assists). He also saw his average ice time decline to a career-low 13:49 per game, lost his spot on the power play, and skated frequently on the Preds’ third line. Unfortunately, with three seasons left on his five-year, $21 million contract, teams haven't been lining up to take Smith off the Predators’ hands, so they have little choice but to let him play and hope that he eventually rediscovers his scoring touch. However, with the club having reacquired veteran winger Scott Hartnell in the offseason, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Smith open the season in a bottom-six capacity once again. At best, he’s worth a late-round flier in deeper fantasy formats.
The Preds have to be concerned about Smith, who saw his offensive output decline for the second consecutive season last year (37 points in 82 games). The trouble is, the team signed him to a five-year, $21.25 million contract extension last July, hoping he would show signs of the player who scored a career-high 52 points two seasons ago. Oddly enough, his goal-scoring has remained relatively consistent – he notched 24, 23, and most recently 21 tallies in the past three seasons – but his assist total dropped to a brutal 16 last year (just over half his tally from two years ago). That could be the result of being flipped between the second and third lines for a good portion of the season, as Smith ended up with his lowest average ice time since 2012-13. With four years remaining on his contract, the Preds have little choice but to keep rolling Smith as their everyday No. 2 right winger in the hopes that he’s finally able to put it all together. There’s hope yet, as this is only his age-27 season, but his offensive upside is limited to about 50 points and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him get usurped by one of the team’s up-and-coming young forwards.
After breaking out for 24 goals and 52 points in 2013-14, Smith put together another successful campaign last season, notching 23 goals and 44 points in 82 games. The 25-year-old was a force with the man advantage, lighting the lamp six times and adding three assists. Not only is he turning into a reliable and consistent 20-goal scorer, but Smith also showed that he could help fantasy owners in other categories by gathering 44 PIM, putting 252 shots on goal, and finishing with a plus-11 mark last season. With the scoring fairly spread out in Nashville, Smith probably doesn't have the ability to take another notable leap, but he should offer the sort of stable, predictable offensive production that most fantasy rosters could certainly use.
Smith finished the 2013-14 season on a relative tear, notching 11 points in his last 10 games, allowing him to finish third on the team in scoring with a career-high 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists). The impressive finish also allowed him to set career-bests across just about every other offensive category, including shots on goal (215), shooting percentage (11.2%) and plus-minus (plus-16). He’s positioned to fill a feature role with the Predators in 2014-15, perhaps even as a member of the top line. Furthermore, given that the Preds are now deeper up front, Smith will also enjoy a significantly-improved supporting cast, which should also enhance his continued development as a bona fide top-six NHL forward. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on Smith in the middle rounds of your draft -- the upside is there to make him a possible breakout player this season.
Smith fell into the dreaded sophomore slump last year after registering 36 points in 72 games during as a rookie in 2011-12. Last year, he tallied just 12 points in 44 games and even spent some time at AHL Milwaukee to get his game together following a lengthy slump. At 23 years of age, Smith still has a distance to go before he enters his peak scoring years, so the Preds are understandably being patient with him. Looking ahead, he should open this season as the team's second-line right winger. But on an offensively-challenged squad, Smith's totals will likely be low.
Smith started his rookie season with a bang back in October, scoring 14 points in his first 15 games. However, it took him another 32 games to score his next 14 points, and he finished the season with just 36 in 72 games, seeing the majority of his ice time in a checking-line role. It was very likely a case of rookie fatigue setting in for the highly-skilled youngster last season, a situation he should be able to avoid this year. He continues to have tremendous upside – draft accordingly.
More Fantasy News
Gets Preds on scoresheet
RWNashville Predators
March 9, 2019
Smith scored a goal in the second period of Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Hurricanes.
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Pointless in return
RWNashville Predators
March 3, 2019
Smith (lower body) was held off the scoresheet but fired six shots on goal in Sunday's 3-2 shootout win over the Wild.
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Removed from injured reserve
RWNashville Predators
March 3, 2019
Smith (lower body) was activated from injured reserve and is expected to play Sunday in Minnesota, Adam Vingan of The Athletic reports.
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Skates with team
RWNashville Predators
Lower Body
March 1, 2019
Smith (lower body) participated in Friday's game-day skate, but he won't be in the lineup against Winnipeg, Scott Billeck of NHL.com reports.
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Still on IR
RWNashville Predators
Undisclosed
February 25, 2019
Smith (undisclosed) remains on injured reserve ahead of Monday's home game against the Oilers, per the NHL's official media site.
ANALYSIS
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