The Nashville Predators have landed an interesting college free agent, signing Cole Smith to a one-year entry-level contract for the 2020-21 season. The 24-year old Smith recently finished his senior season at the University of North Dakota. Predators’ AGM Jeff Kealty released a statement explaining the signing:
He is a big, strong guy who has gotten better every year. If you talk to the people at North Dakota, they just rave about the character traits that he has – his competitiveness, his drive, his physicality, all those ingredients he adds to a team in a winning environment. We feel like he’s going to be able to add all of that to our organization.
If you’re looking for a top-six scoring threat, you won’t find it in Smith. The 6’3″ winger recorded just 24 goals and 51 points in 137 games for North Dakota, instead playing depth energy role on teams that had their fair share of dynamic scoring threats.
That energy is exactly what the Predators are banking on as they give Smith his first professional opportunity. Given that he’ll turn 25 in October, he may actually battle for a fourth-line role in Nashville quite quickly, though he’ll almost surely start at the AHL level. If he can provide some physicality and polished checking ability, perhaps he can become a regular before long.