You would’ve been hard pressed to write a more creative and unpredictable script for the Nashville Predators as the season draws close to an end with only 12 games left, and slim playoff hopes remaining.
How about this for things you didn’t see coming for the Nashville Predators back before the season started; Kiefer Sherwood would score the team’s first goal of 2022-23, only to eventually be waived by the team, go unclaimed and tear it up in Milwaukee, only to return to the NHL level and become a catalyst for the final playoff push?
You got all of that? Seriously, Sherwood needs to be the next spokesperson for Red Bull, because the dude plays like he chugs one between every shift. If Red Bull “gives you wings”, then Sherwood might fly through the goalie in his next game.
Sherwood Playing for his NHL Future, either in Nashville or elsewhere
These kinds of stories are what I love most about being a sports fan. Seeing the underdog story play out. The journeyman. The undrafted player who had to work their way up and didn’t have all of the fanfare surrounding them.
Sherwood is becoming a UFA this offseason and is giving the Nashville Predators front office, with new General Manager Barry Trotz, a lot to chew on. This is how you earn yourself a nice pay raise when making the league minimum salary of $750K.
The injuries have piled up for the Nashville Predators right around the same time that the trade deadline and ensuing sell-off occurred. This left open slots for newcomers, like Sherwood, to prove that they’re worth keeping around.
You never want to learn this kind of thing at the expense of brutal injuries, but unfortunately that’s just part of sports. And for Sherwood, he is playing every shift like it’s his last chance to prove to front offices everywhere, not just in Nashville, that he’s an everyday NHL player.
The Predators notched another gutsy win on Thursday night by defeating the Seattle Kraken 2-1 after a shootout winning goal from Philip Tomasino.
But let’s go back to what really may have saved this game for the Nashville Predators; two instances that directly involve Sherwood and changing momentum in this game:
Sherwood with an insanely accurate pass across the slot to Tyson Barrie who blasts a shot for a huge rebound, which Sherwood pounces on for his fourth goal of the season. Just aggressive and beautiful hockey by Sherwood and his linemates on that play.
The next moment is just as important as the Kraken were kind of inserting their will to score a late goal and put the Predators away in regulation. In the dwindling minutes of the third period, Sherwood showed relentless pursuit and energy for the puck and draws a boarding penalty on Brandon Tanev.
Although the Predators didn’t capitalize by connecting on the power play, it at least allowed this to get to overtime and slow down the train that was the Kraken offensive pursuit.
These kinds of things matter and used to be what made the Predators so daunting to play against for opponents. It used to be very rare that the Predators would lose because they got outworked, and players like Sherwood, although probably not the most talented, will always outwork.
And let’s not overshadow Sherwood sneaky good offensive traits. He’s not shy at putting pucks on net. He notched five shots on goal against Seattle in a game where the team as a whole only managed 24.
As usually a bottom six player, but getting elevate to top six due to so much roster turnover, he’s making the most of it. Which leaves the question of will he stick around to 2023-24 for the Nashville Predators?
Assistant Coach Dan Hinote really praised the recent play of Sherwood in an interview with Bally Sports South over a week ago, and it has really continued into the stretch run of the regular season, a time the Predators desperately need it.
With his recent play, and being in the prime of his career at age 27, I’d give Sherwood a shot to stick around with a decent pay raise and see if he can earn himself a spot in training camp. Talk about a bonus find for the Nashville Predators if he continues to blossom after kind of getting rediscovered through everything that happened with the roster in the last couple of months.
Sherwood is originally an undrafted player who first broke into the NHL in 2018-19 playing in 50 games and notching 12 points. That’s his current career high for a season, and he’s up to nine points in 20 games for the Predators with 12 games left.
Awesome story that has developed out of this season for the Nashville Predators.