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Preds’ Smith signs with Finnish team owned by Hartnell, Timonen

Oct 2, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

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Jason LaBarbera, Craig Smith AP

Nashville forward Craig Smith has agreed to terms with KalPa of the SM-liiga, a deal that will reportedly keep him in Finland until the Christmas break.

The move puts the 23-year-old in a unique situation — aside from being locked in until December (though he does have an out clause), his bosses for the next couple of months will be fellow NHLers Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell.

The two Flyers own minority shares of the team along with ex-Philly Sami Kapanen, who recently returned to playing after serving as KalPa’s CEO.

(Kapanen, 39, is the team captain and scored 25 points in 35 games last year.)

Prior to signing with KalPa, Smith was one of the benefactors of Sept. 15th’s “quick, let’s sign as many contracts as we can before the CBA expires” extravaganza, scoring a two-year, $4 million deal from the Preds.

It was a significant raise from his entry level deal, one Nashville GM David Poile recognized as a gamble.

“This is a leap of faith, obviously we’re taking his salary up to a significant level after the season. We’re betting that he’s going to be one of our best offensive players,” Poile told The Tennessean. “He has only played one year in the league, but he and Colin Wilson, two young forwards represent for us an area in offense to turn it up a notch”

Smith scored 14G-22A-36PTS in 72 games as a rookie for the Preds last season and participated in the NHL All Star weekend skills competition in Ottawa.

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