Craig Smith was sitting in a sociology class at the University of Wisconsin this past summer when his decision started to clear up. For days, really weeks, he had been wrestling with the decision to play another year under Mike Eaves at Wisconsin or to begin his professional hockey career in the Predators organization.
"I thought about it for so long, it'd been draining me," he said during a Thursday phone conversation. Smith tried making a list of pros and cons. Many times. That didn't clear things up like it was supposed to. He was a Madison, Wis., native playing hockey for the Badgers in front of friends and family. It doesn't get any better than that. College is the best four years of your life, and so far he'd only had two.
But the Predators weren't making the decision easy. Smith couldn't help but notice the opportunity shaping up in front of him. GM David Poile let some veteran forwards sign elsewhere during free agency this past summer -- partly because he needed money to sign Nashville's big three of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne ... and partly because he believed in the young players coming up through the system. Smith was one of those players.
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