first_imgCraig Smith was expected to be one of the main leaders for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team this upcoming season, but now he won’t even be suiting up for the Badgers.Instead, Smith will forgo his remaining two years of eligibility at UW to turn pro and play for the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League. The Predators, the team of former Badgers Blake Geoffrion and Ryan Suter, drafted Smith in the fourth round of the 2009 draft (98th overall).“We’re excited for Craig,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said in a statement released Thursday. “The window of opportunity to make a move like this is sometimes small. The landscape has changed with Nashville in that the team has changed somewhat with free agency. Smitty had every thought after a successful senior men’s World Championship to come back and play here at Wisconsin, but he feels like there is an opportunity now and he feels in his heart it is the right time to go.” Smith was expected to serve as one of UW’s co-captains this season, but instead, he joins defenseman Jake Gardiner and forward Jordy Murray as as early departures. Gardiner and Murray each had one year of eligibility remaining.Smith led the Badgers with 19 goals last season and ranked second in points with 43 in 41 games. In his two-year career at UW, Smith recorded 27 goals, 76 points and 159 penalty minutes in 82 games.last_img

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