Preds' Smith growing into solid NHL center - WSMV Channel 4

Preds' Smith growing into solid NHL center

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz believes center Craig Smith can be a top-notch player in the NHL. The 23-year-old has the skills and just needs the experience.

"I like working to try and better myself, and it's mainly timing - finding your guy, which I've struggled to do at times in the defensive zone. And they know that, and they've let me know," Smith said.

One thing Smith doesn't lack is instinct. He has a knack for situations when the spotlight shines, especially shootouts.

Growing up in Madison, WI, Smith played every sport. He said he was never pushed by his parents, but he simply gravitated to hockey.

"The (University of Wisconsin) Badgers were like my pro team growing up. I never had a favorite NHL team," he said.

As his talent grew, Smith was selected by the Predators in the fourth round of the 2009 Draft.

"I still am kind of numb to the whole thing - getting paid," he said.

Smith's easy-going personality and ability to take it all in stride were tested last year when he got his first tooth knocked out in a game.

"I don't want to lose my teeth at all. It sucks. Anybody who says it's fun is a liar," he said, laughing.

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