The Nashville Predators have signed minor league forward Cole Smith to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $750K at the NHL level and $70K at the AHL level. Smith was scheduled to be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent later this month.
Now 25, Smith was an undrafted free agent signing out of the University of North Dakota in 2020 and managed to make his NHL debut with the Predators this season. The 6’3″ forward scored ten points in 23 games with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL and is likely headed back to the minor leagues next season. He does represent a potential injury callup, but it’s hard to imagine him grabbing a full-time roster spot without an incredible performance in training camp.
Still, he should give the AHL club some good depth and could land a few more opportunities in the NHL throughout the season. Even though he’ll be 26 next summer, he won’t qualify for Group VI unrestricted free agency as Smith will have just two years of professional experience. That means restricted free agency is awaiting him once again, hopefully with a full successful season under his belt.