Just in time to get back into action after the All-Star break, the Nashville Predators have some roster news to share with their beloved fans.
Per multiple reports, Cole Smith has been extended by the Nashville Predators to a one-year, $775,000 contract through 2023-24 season. He has played in 42 of the team’s 48 games after only having nine career NHL games coming into the season.
Smith has been the subject of a lot of criticism from the fanbase as the desire for more scoring and more dynamic playmakers to be called up. Most notably, Philip Tomasino who has spent the entire 2022-23 campaign in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals.
It didn’t help matters when Eeli Tolvanen was let go on waivers, and subsequently has flourished with the Seattle Kraken.
Some diehard Predators fans are not taking it so well, as expected:
All joking aside, I’m happy for Smith. An undrafted player who plays with a chip on his shoulder. I have no problem ever rooting for the underdog player who works his butt off.
With that said, this is a very minor contract extension. Smith gets a slight raise from his previous $750,000 salary, and will likely remain a glue guy in the bottom six playing minimal minutes.
Nashville Predators Could be Sending a Message before Trade Deadline
Perhaps this could be a sign of things to come as the trade deadline approaches. It is less than a month away with the Nashville Predators flirting with a wildcard spot and even within striking distance of third place in the Central Division race.
Smith scored his first career NHL goal just a couple games before the All-Star break, and followed it up with another goal against the New Jersey Devils just two games later.
As much as I understand the want for more goal scorers on this team that struggles to put up goals (26th in the NHL), Smith has shown modest improvement and plays his role well. While his offensive ceiling is low, you can always count on the guy to bring a maximum amount of effort and play to the physical style that Head Coach John Hynes preaches.
You can reserve a minimal contract like this one for guys who play their hearts out, play with a high level of physical intensity and might I add is only 27-years-old.
I’m sure a lot of fans will be up in arms over this, but really there’s no reason to be. The team decided they like what they’re seeing from Smith enough so to give him another year to keep improving. It doesn’t mean he’ll remain full-time on the starting roster throughout next season necessarily.
Smith ranks third on the Predators in hits with 112 and third on the team in PIM with 43. He also sees significant time on the penalty kill, which is 14th in the NHL and has been called upon a lot in crucial moments to close out games.
We will have to wait and see if this deal is a prerequisite to some much bigger moves ahead over the next few weeks leading up to the March 3 deadline.