Tuesday, September 15, 2009

09/10 Men's Preview: #15 Craig Smith


Vitals:

Position: Forward
Year in School: Freshman
Shoots Right
Height: 6-0
Weight: 195
Hometown: Madison, WI
Major: unknown
Previous Team: Waterloo (USHL) last season

NHL Considerations: Drafted in the 4th round by Nashville this past summer.

08/09 Stats: 54 games, 28-48-76, +32, 108 PIM
07/08 Stats: 58 games, 13-10-23, -3, 90 PIM

09/10 Role: 3rd line (hopefully w/ Murray and Stepan) and special teams

08/09 Recap: I think its safe to say Craig had a breakout year in his final USHL campaign. He was 2nd in the league in scoring and assists, and 4th in +/-. He was a 1st team All-USHL selection, joining teammate Brett Bennett. During the middle of the season, he took part in the Junior A Challenge where he was the captain of Team USA. He led the team to gold w/ some stellar play which earned him a spot on the all-tourney team. He again led Waterloo (Badger Hockey USHL factory) to the USHL playoffs, but lost in the 1st round to Green Bay.

Biggest Strength: I was able to see Craig play once last season in GB. The one thing that really stuck out to me that night is that he plays much bigger than 6 feet tall, 195 lbs. He used his body well, and was a contributor in all scenarios on the ice.

Biggest Weakness: Based solely on his stats, he has an issue w/ PIM. He’s going to have to learn to control his temper, much like his further Nashville teammate Blake Geoffrion did.

09/10 Thoughts: I’ve learned to temper my expectations of freshman since Kyle Turris graced Madison w/ his presence for one season. Had the blog existed then and had I done these previews, I would have predicted a 45 pt regular season for young KT. I expect Craig to contribute, he is older, being 20 at the start of the season, and comes off an outstanding USHL season. How much he contributes is a different story. He played in all situations in Waterloo, and I would expect to see him on the 2nd PP unit, though getting a spot on the PK might be difficult. If he beats my expectations, great, but w/ the depth at forward this season, there is no reason for unreasonable KT like expectations to cause disappoint. Getting his feet wet in some WCHA action and being ready to step up in 10/11 will be key.

I think Badger fans will like what they see of the Madison native (if you haven’t seen him already). I’ve been hyping him here on the blog for months, and can’t wait to see him play.

Prediction: 32 games, 8-8-16*
*All predictions for regular season only

Photo from uwbadgers.com