Smith, Cole and Bellemare Listed Among Top 10 Most Underrated Players of the 2021-22 NHL Season

Every team has a player or players that, despite having a strong season, do not get the recognition they deserve. These are the less talked about players whose play has helped their team have success this season. Here are the top-10 underrated players of the 2021-22 season.

10) Craig Smith, Boston Bruins

Craig Smith has been a welcome addition to the Boston Bruins’ lineup the last two seasons as he has helped provide solid bottom-six scoring for the team. He has 29 even-strength points this season in 62 games and has helped them outscore the opposition 41-34 when he has been on the ice. Most importantly, he has shown he can play up and down the lineup having success in 178 minutes playing on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

As for Smith’s analytics, they are amongst the best on the Bruins. He has a 55.40% Corsi at even strength along with a 57.77% shots for percentage and a 55.20% high danger chances for percentage. Lastly, he isn’t afraid to play physically, as he has 80 hits this season. The 32-year-old has been a force in 2021-22 and the Bruins’ third line of Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle and himself should cause havoc for the opposition once the postseason begins.

9) Ian Cole, Carolina Hurricanes

Ian Cole is having one of the best seasons of his career for the Hurricanes this year. The 33-year-old defenceman has 18 points this season and is less than 30 minutes of even-strength time on ice from passing 1,000 minutes for the season. He is a versatile defenceman who has shown he can play not just with a rotating cast of partners, but also on both sides of the ice as the left-shot defenceman has played over 200 minutes on the right side.

This season, Cole has a 56.74% Corsi while the Hurricanes have outscored opponents 43 to 33 at even strength. Lastly, he has thrown 93 hits while blocking 86 shots. Carolina has a very deep team, and the two-time Stanley Cup winner is a big reason why their defensive group is one of the best in the entire NHL.

8) Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Tampa Bay Lightning

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare centers one of, if not the best fourth line in the NHL, playing alongside Corey Perry and Patrick Maroon. His work shorthanded has Tampa as a top-10 penalty-killing team in the league, and at even strength, the Lightning have only allowed 17 total goals in the 770 minutes of ice time he has played this season. He has become a premier shut-down center in the league and is one of its best defensive forwards this season.

While Bellemare is known for his defensive play, the Lightning have done well in the offensive zone with him on the ice as well. Tampa has scored 35 goals at even strength, with him collecting 16 even strength points on the season. Lastly, he has been one of their best faceoff men all season, recording a 51.4% win percentage. If the Lightning have eyes on capturing a third straight Stanley Cup, he will play a key role in the process.

Craig Smith hits jackpot in Vegas with hat trick as Bruins beat Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS, NV – Craig Smith scored three goals and the Boston Bruins beat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2 on Thursday night.

It was Smith’s third career hat trick and second with the Bruins. It’s the third consecutive season Smith has recorded a hat trick.

The Bruins improved to 4-1-0 on their six-game road trip, and 9-3-2 in their last 14 away from home. Overall they’ve won six of their last seven games as they inch closer to third-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division.

David Pastrnak scored twice for Boston, and Jeremy Swayman stopped 34 shots. Pastrnak’s 23 goals since Jan. 1 lead the NHL.

Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Vegas, and Robin Lehner made 31 saves.

Craig Smith has come as advertised

BOSTON, MA – Over the past two months, Craig Smith has been on fire. The Boston Bruins‘ winger has been a points machine and has helped make the B’s second line dominant. With Smith’s first regular season with Boston nearly in the books, the Wisconsin native has come as advertised. The Black and Gold’s secondary scoring needed a spark which Smith has helped provide.

In 49 games this season, Smith has scored 13 goals and recorded 19 assists. His 32 points are the fifth most on the Bruins’ roster. In Smith’s first season in Boston, he has provided the offense the Bruins expected when he was signed in free agency.

‘Boston will love him:’ Craig Smith is ready to bring his relentless energy to the Bruins

BOSTON, MA- When Craig Smith talks about the act of shooting, he doesn’t always say “shoot.”

He likes to “rip” pucks. He “hammers” them. He “wires” them.

Even his word choices are energetic.

“Boston will love him,” said former Bruins defenseman Hal Gill, who watched Smith nightly in his role as a Predators radio analyst. “His interviews are always electric. Usually he’s got his shirt off, he’s high energy, he’s got a big smile. One of my favorite quotes of his is, ‘Pedal through the floor, play with your hair on fire.’ That’s the energy he brings.”

On Oct. 10 the Bruins added Smith, the 31-year-old right winger, for his buzzy brand of 5-on-5 attacking. The signing, $9.3 million over the next three years, was widely hailed as one of the offseason’s smartest: a bargain for a five-time 20-goal scorer. Since debuting at practice on Jan. 3, Smith has ripped, hammered, and wired pucks next to third-line center Charlie Coyle and left wing Nick Ritchie. The Bruins believe they’ll get consistent production from the burly Ritchie, puck-possessing Coyle, and Smith, who scored 18 goals last year and was on pace for 21 when the season ended early.

Bruins sign NHL veteran Craig Smith to 3 year, $9.3 Million Contract to bolster forward group

BOSTON, MA – The Boston Bruins have added an NHL veteran via free agency to bolster their group of forwards.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced Saturday that the team signed winger Craig Smith to a three-year, $9.3 million contract.

Smith has played nine NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft.

The 31-year-old played 69 games with the Predators this past season, recording 18 goals and 13 assists for 31 points with a plus-18 rating.

Craig Smith scores first NHL hat trick, powers Predators past Islanders

NASHVILLE, TN – Craig Smith scored his first NHL hat trick for the Nashville Predators in a 5-0 win against the New York Islanders at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.

Juuse Saros made 31 saves for his second shutout this season for the Predators (27-22-7), who won for the first time in three games. Rocco Grimaldi had a goal and an assist.

“It was great,” Smith said. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities to get [a hat trick], so it was nice. It was really good looks by the guys around me. They were nice feeds by [Grimaldi], good work by [Nick Bonino] and was a [heck] of a pass by [Roman Josi] there at the end.”

Craig Smith plays in his 500th NHL Game for Predators

NASHVILLE, TN –

When he wasn’t busy building his hockey skills, a 16-year-old Craig Smith spent one summer helping build something else in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin.

With the 2006 school year over, Smith figured, at least initially, that most of his free time would be spent at the local ice rinks.

The thought of a part-time job hadn’t crossed his mind. That all changed, however, after a chat with his high school hockey coach.

“I was 16 at the time,” recalled Smith. “One of my old high school coaches, Chad Stauffacher, and his brother, Luke – their family owned a construction business – and they were putting up a hotel for the summer. They had asked if I had a job for the summer and I didn’t have anything going on, so I figured I could make some money doing that work.”

While it wasn’t the traditional summer job for a young teenager, Smith embraced the tasks he was given.

Predators: Why Craig Smith is best story of team’s season so far

NASHVILLE, TN – When they’re all gathered together in a small area, as they were at Tuesday’s practice at Centennial Sportsplex, the Nashville Predators are a frightening bunch.

Not like Halloween frightening or bar brawl frightening, but worth a shiver or two if you have any empathy for teams that must play them. And if you’re projecting what the Predators could become before this season’s over … scary. Good scary if you live in Nashville.

There was Filip Forsberg, who’s on his way to another level of NHL stardom, working a drill with Bobby Orr impersonator Viktor Arvidsson. There was P.K. Subban getting a shot past Pekka Rinne. There was recent addition Kyle Turris, showing no ill effects from a puck that smashed him in the cheek a day earlier.

Smith Scores 100th Goal, Preds Beat Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL –

Craig Smith‘s 100th career goal proved to be the game-winner as the Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a 2-1 final on Friday night at the United Center.

The win is Nashville’s fifth of the season and gives them three out of a possible four points in Chicago this season.

After a first period that saw Nashville outshot 21-7 and allow a shorthanded goal to Chicago, Calle Jarnkrok and Craig Smith gave the Preds a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes, a lead they never relinquished.

“Sometimes you’re going to have a period or shift or whatever that you’re not going to like, but it’s about making the adjustments, stepping up and making the big plays when the time is right,” Smith said. “I thought we did that, we executed well and a win’s a win.”