Craig Smith (2011-2012)
There were players that were critical to the Nashville Predators getting over the hump of being just an ordinary playoff team, to actually being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Craig Smith’s talent and expectations were there right from the start as he came out of the University of Wisconsin and onto the Nashville Predators. He was drafted in the 4th round and immediately made a big impact on a Predators team that had loads of talent.
In 72 games for his rookie season, Smith would tally an impressive 36 points in just a little over 14 minutes of average ice time. He was a solid contributor on the power play, as well as defensively and in the faceoff circle.
Despite the strong rookie showing, Smith would finish just 12th in the Calder Trophy voting on a Predators team that finished with 104 points and a first-round playoff series victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
Smith had the fiery energy and passion you love to see as well. He went on to be one of the better players in franchise history, and I’m still salty that the Predators lost him over this past offseason.