Most underrated player on the Nashville Predators?
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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our choices for most underrated player on the Nashville Predators.
Quality goal scorers don’t generally fly under the radar, especially for a long period of time. For whatever reason, the 30-year-old winger is an exception.
Smith has scored 20+ goals, or at that pace, in six of the last seven seasons. Most of the damage has been done at 5v5. Smith has found the back of the net 62 times since the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign. Of those 62 goals, 46 were scored at 5v5 (74%). He’s out-paced Sasha Barkov, Tyler Seguin, Jonathan Marchessault, Mika Zibanejad, Mark Scheifele, and Dylan Larkin, among many others, over the last ~three seasons. Still no clout.
Smith’s on-ice impact on Nashville’s attack has been remarkably strong. The Predators have scored goals at a higher rate with Smith on the ice in seven consecutive seasons. They’ve generated chances at a higher clip with Smith *every* year since he entered the league.
He may not be flashy but he’s an exceptional shot/chance/goal generator at 5v5. The only thing holding him back from flirting with 30 every year is ice time. Few – 23 to be exact (L3 years) – can match his efficiency.
The 31 year old centre finished 6th in points for the Preds and 6th amongst their forwards in ice time but when he was on the ice he produced. Bonino led the team in even strength goals with 17 on the season which accounted for all of his scoring save for one PP goal. Bonino was rock solid at 5 on 5, finishing first on the team as well in ESP/60 (2.441). Bonino was solid at preventing goals as well. His 62.67GF% was second only behind Craig Smith for players who played at least 30 games, and he blocked more shots than any other forward as well. His shooting percentage will likely fall back to earth next season but Bonino certainly had an underrated year in 2019/2020.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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