From now until the beginning of training camp, Boston Hockey Now is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2022-23 Boston Bruins. Today’s player: Craig Smith.
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What Happened Last Year: After signing a three-year, $9.3 million ($3.1 M AAV) with the Boston Bruins on the first day of 2020 free agency, winger Craig Smith had a solid first season in Black and Gold. Smith had 13 goals snd 19 assists in 54 games. He was also a plus 25. Smith then chipped in with two goals and three assists in ten games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 2021-22 regular season and playoffs didn’t go as well though for Smith. After scoring 16 goals to go with 20 assists in 74 games, Smith was held off the scoresheet in the seven-game series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The not-so-good: While Smith’s stats definitely could’ve been better and were not what the Boston Bruins expected when they signed him to the aforementioned contract, the read here was there was no lack of effort. Smith is one of the hardest workers on the team in games and practice. He’s a throwback to the sandpaper players that Bruins fans have always adored. Unfortunately, there were too many nights where Craig Smith couldn’t shoot the puck into a soccer net. His luck was brutal and it just spiraled at times for the 32-year-old, 6-foot, 203-pound winger.
Questions To Be Answered This Season: With Brad Marchand expected to be out until late November, the Boston Bruins will need Smith to be able to play top-6 forward caliber hockey and minutes at times. Can he give them that consistency up and down the lineup?
In Their Words: “I can confirm an actual trade offer was made but after trying to find common ground for awhile, the talks were put on hold,” an NHL executive source told Boston Hockey Now on August 16. “This team really wanted Smith and wanted this to happen.”
Overall Outlook: Based on the above quote last month, Smith, like Mike Reilly, could be a salary cap casualty when the Boston Bruins need to become cap compliant in December.