Smith leaves Wisconsin to sign with Nashville

Wisconsin forward Craig Smith will forgo his final two years of eligibility to sign with the Nashville Predators, the school announced Thursday.

The Predators drafted Smith in the fourth round (98th overall) of the 2009 NHL draft.

“We’re excited for Craig,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said in a statement. “The window of opportunity to make a move like this is sometimes small. The landscape has changed with Nashville in that the team has changed somewhat with free agency. ‘Smitty’ had every thought after a successful senior men’s World Championship to come back and play here at Wisconsin, but he feels like there is an opportunity now and he feels in his heart it is the right time to go.”

Smith, who would have been one of Wisconsin’s co-captains next season, scored a team-best 19 goals a year ago. He ranked second on the team with 43 points in 41 games. For his career, Smith finishes with 27 goals, 76 points and 159 penalty minutes in 82 games.

Smith skated for the United States in the 2011 IIHF World Championship where he posted three goals and six points in seven games.