- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Nashville Predators have avoided arbitration with Craig Smith by signing the forward to a $21.25 million, five-year contract.

General manager David Poile announced the deal with the restricted free agent on Monday.

“Craig Smith is an integral part of our team’s young core and we are pleased to have agreed on a long-term contract that both parties are comfortable with,” Poile said in a statement. “With Craig’s durability, work ethic and intensity, we see him continuing to build on his recent production and be a valuable contributor to our offensive attack for the next five seasons.”

Smith, 25, has scored at least 20 goals in two straight seasons. He had five points (two goals, three assists) in six games in Nashville’s first-round playoff loss to Chicago.

A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Smith has 144 points (65 goals, 79 assists) in 277 career games with Nashville. The 98th overall pick in the 2009 draft has played for the United States in four World Championships since 2011.

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