Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Kiefer Sherwood

Kiefer Sherwood #44 of the Nashville Predators skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 19, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Kiefer Sherwood #44 of the Nashville Predators skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 19, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Moving right along in the Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp player previews with a player that really was a pleasant surprise to the organization in 2022-23, Kiefer Sherwood.

You can’t pick out a player who made more of their opportunity with the Predators last season than Sherwood did. He was seemingly unknown and without much fan fare heading into 2022-23 and managed to stick around in the lineup and be a major asset throughout the course of the season.

Sherwood comes into Nashville Predators training camp as a player battling for roster position, and while you would think he’s safe to be an opening night starter against the Tampa Bay Lightning, there is a lot of healthy roster competition for fourth and third line minutes.

With that said, let’s preview the training camp ahead for Sherwood.

2022-23 Season in Review for Sherwood

As already mentioned, Sherwood quickly took everyone by surprise making quite literally an instant impact on the Nashville Predators, scoring the first goal of the 2022-23 campaign at the Global Series against the San Jose Sharks.

At the time of the goal I remember thinking to myself, who is this guy and does he have staying power in this lineup? I wasn’t sure, but definitely he raised some eyebrows scoring these hard-working goal in the dirty area, finding a loose rebound.

Sherwood had just seven career NHL goals before that, over the course of 87 games in the league. He had made it into just 37 games since his rookie season in 2018-19 with the Anaheim Ducks.

As strong as he started, Sherwood would quickly be sent back down to the Milwaukee Admirals and not return to the Predators lineup until late February. I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not that was the right move.

Be that as it may, Sherwood would stick around as a mainstay in the Predators starting lineup the rest of the way. Funny enough, he would score the last goal of the Predators’ 2022-23 season as well. The first and the last.

Sherwood would also see a steady increase of ice time as the season came into the last month, and he would impact other areas like hits, blocking shots while remaining aggressive offensively.

Season Ahead for Sherwood

Sherwood has to be considered a top candidate to start on Nashville’s fourth line right out of training camp and into the regular season. However, Denis Gurianov looks to be a player he’ll have to beat out, along with Cole Smith.

Since Sherwood is primarily a right wing, he has an advantage as the Predators have mostly left wings who can switch sides or play center.

If you’re thinking purely about right wing players, you also have to move into the equation Philip Tomasino, Luke Evangelista and Gustav Nyquist. Point being, it is crowded and a lot to sort out.

Sherwood’s work ethic and desire to stick around on the NHL level, and not be constantly shifted back down to the AHL now at age 28 should be all the fuel he needs to earn himself a starting spot.

It’s really going to come down to if Sherwood can set himself apart not only in training camp, but in preseason action, and show Brunette that he’s carrying over the momentum he built last season in 32 games.


Biggest Strength & Weakness for Sherwood

Sherwood’s biggest strength is very easy to identify; it’s his offensive aggression and ability to generate extra possessions whether that’s through hard forechecking and through his speed in transition.

This trait actually allows Sherwood to not just be a fourth line player. He can be moved around the lineup if there’s several injuries or if the coaches are just trying to send a message to play harder.

Sherwood is by no means a shy player that hides from generating offense. He leaves it all out there, which is a big reason why in just 13:36 of average ice time he still managed to produce 57 shots on goal.

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As for weakness, it’s not really even Sherwood’s fault, but he has inconsistent NHL experience that can lead to costly mistakes or bad penalties. He did have 30 penalty minutes in 32 games. Not a great ratio, but to be expected from a player that has limited NHL experience, is undersized and also plays with that raw intensity.

Leaning on Sherwood every single game, even in fourth line duty, could lead to a fair share of self-inflicted errors that could lead to a puck getting by Juuse Saros in clutch time.

Despite that, I’ll take Sherwood over Smith any day, and it’s not even close. Gurianov is the outlier for me. Let’s see how they both perform in Head Coach Andrew Brunette‘s new system.