Bumps and bruises are going to happen throughout an 82-game season, and at least for now, the Nashville Predators are as close as you can get to full strength 30 games into 2023-24. They finally have Tommy Novak and Cody Glass back, and their defensive corps is at 100 percent as well.
Heading into their matchup on Friday night with the Carolina Hurricanes, Kiefer Sherwood was held out of the lineup with an upper body injury. The news came out close to puck drop when originally it was reported that Luke Evangelista would be a healthy scratch.
Evangelista has had his ups and downs in terms of performance reviews in the eyes of Head Coach Andrew Brunette. Sometimes the head coach just wants a reset for a young player that still has a lot of developing to do.
It was Sherwood's first missed game of the season, but the Predators were able to overcome missing a key player to their depth. Evangelista ironically went on to have a pretty strong performance, including a primary assist on the tying goal in the third period to Jeremy Lauzon.
This is hopefully just a routine maintenance type of injury for Sherwood. He's a tone setter for your bottom six. He's second on the Predators in hits with 83, and in just 12:07 of average ice time he's still sixth on the team in shots on goal with 51. He has added five goals and six assists to his physical style of play.
Sherwood has battled his way to being an everyday NHL starter since getting his opportunity with the Predators going into last season. You need his energy out there. He's a vital two-way player that earns every shift he gets.
This is an important contract year for Sherwood. He's 28-years-old and was re-signed in the offseason to a one-year deal for close to the league minimum of $775,000. He will be a UFA in 2024, and is out to earn himself a multi-year deal with Nashville past 2024.
Smart decision to not force a banged up Sherwood into the starting lineup. The Predators have depth when guys needs a couple games off. It's possible Sherwood gets back into the lineup on Saturday against the Capitals, but I would still proceed with caution if it's a nagging injury that can become worse without adequate rest.