ONTARIO, Calif. – Kiefer Sherwood was never drafted by an NHL team. In his entire hockey career, pro and college, he’s been more than a point-a-game scorer just once, in 2016-17 with Miami of Ohio, with 38 points in 36 games. He has had a journeyman pro career, mostly as a depth-guy plugger. But in 2021-22, with the Colorado Eagles, he’s turned into an AHL superstar of sorts.
Entering Saturday night’s game for the Eagles against the Ontario Reign, Sherwood had 30 goals and 62 points in 50 games. I’ve seen him play several times this year, and, honestly, he’s looked dominant at times. To me, he’s looked like the AHL version of Jarome Iginla. He’s big, strong, physical and now. … very fast on his skates. He’s been the Eagles’ true leader all season, or so it’s seemed to me.
He’s played 11 games with the Colorado Avalanche this season too, but the scoring numbers aren’t quite as impressive: one goal, one assist. Of course, he doesn’t play on the first line with the Avs when he gets a call-up, like he does with the Eagles.
So, the question is: what explains Sherwood’s newfound all-star status (he made the AHL ASG this season)?
The answer, or some of it anyway: new skating techniques, thanks to some lessons he took over the summer. Hey, you’re never too old to learn new tricks, right?
“I just tried to go back to the basics last summer, work on my edge work and just kind of further myself,” Sherwood said. “This whole organization has so much talent, so you just try to take a page out of 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 think of himself more now as 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. Whatever a team needs, I want to do.”
Sherwood will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and I won’t be at all surprised if either the Avs or another team signs him to a one-way deal. PuckPedia lists his salary as $750,000 at the NHL level and $335,000 at the AHL level. That’s still pretty good coin for a minor-league player. After this season, though, he might well have a good chance at being a full-time NHLer.
But Sherwood, as you may have gathered already, doesn’t like to look too far into the future. He embraces the Buddhist philosophy of “no future, no past, just the present.”
“Just take it day by day,” Sherwood said. “Next season – there’s too far for me to look ahead to. I’m just enjoying being in this organization, and that’s it.”