ONTARIO, Calif. – Kiefer Sherwood has never been drafted by an NHL team. In his entire hockey career, professional and collegiate, he scored more than one point per game only once, in 2016-2017 with Miami of Ohio, with 38 points in 36 games. He had a professional journeyman career, primarily as a depth plugger. But in 2021-22, with the Colorado Eagles, he became something of an AHL superstar.
Going into Saturday night’s game for the Eagles against Ontario’s Reign, Sherwood has 30 goals and 62 points in 50 games. I’ve seen him play several times this year and honestly he looked dominant on time. To me, he looked like the AHL version of Jarome Iginla. He is tall, strong, physical and now. …very fast on his skates. He’s been the real leader for the Eagles all season, or so it seemed to me.
He also played 11 games with the Colorado Avalanche this season, but the number of scorers is not as impressive: one goal, one assist. Of course, he doesn’t play on the first line with the Avs when called up, like he does with the Eagles.
So the question is, what explains Sherwood’s new star status (he made the ASG AHL this season)?
The answer, or part of it anyway: new skating techniques, thanks to a few lessons he took during the summer. Hey, you’re never too old to learn new tricks, are you?
“I just tried to go back to basics last summer, work on my cutting edge work and take it a little further myself,” Sherwood said. “This whole organization has so much talent, so you’re just trying to take a page off their books.”
I had another question for Sherwood, 27, a 6-foot, 194-pound right winger from Columbus, Ohio: When he gets the next call from the Avs or any other NHL team, will he consider himself more like a scorer, and not a depth plugger who should just worry about getting pucks deep and finishing his checks?
“I just control what I can, no matter where I am,” he said. “If I bring the work ethic, the rest will take care of itself. Anything a team needs, I want to do.
Sherwood will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Avs or another team signed him to a one-way deal. PuckPedia lists his salary as $750,000 at the NHL level and $335,000 at the AHL level. Still, it’s a pretty good play for a minor league player. After this season, however, he might have a good shot at being a full-time NHLer.
But Sherwood, as you may have already realized, doesn’t like to look too far into the future. It embraces the Buddhist philosophy of “no future, no past, just the present”.
“Take it day by day,” Sherwood said. “Next season – it’s too far for me to project myself. I just enjoy being in this organization, and that’s it.