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Kiefer Sherwood Has Strong Case For A New Contract After Breakout Year

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Sherwood
Photo of Kiefer Sherwood by John Russell/Nashville Predators

Barry Trotz wants Kiefer Sherwood to be a Nashville Predator next season.

The first-year general manager admitted during Tuesday’s end-of-season press conference he nearly opened contract extension talks with the 29-year-old forward just before the Stanley Cup Playoffs began last month.

But Trotz didn’t want to interrupt Sherwood’s groove at such a critical time.

“So I just waited,” Trotz said. “He’s really comfortable with us, and I’m really comfortable with him. We’ll work towards that [extension].”

Sherwood’s play in the latter half of the year makes his potential return more palpable.

He set career highs in goals (10), assists (17) and points (27) in what was his first full NHL season without a stint in the minors. The former undrafted free agent finished second on the Predators with a plus-17 rating and was third in hits with 234.

Sherwood suffered an upper-body injury in December and missed additional time in January as a healthy scratch. Most of his production followed the NHL All-Star break when he carved out a role on the fourth line with Michael McCarron and Cole Smith.

“Every season kind of offers different adversity,” Sherwood said. “There were ups and downs this year too before things kind of clicked in the second half. I give a lot of credit to management for their patience and for the opportunity that they gave me. Same for the coaching staff. It’s a team effort.”

While he was struggling to find ice time, Sherwood met one-on-one with Trotz, who called him “a really great pro” despite the circumstances.

Sherwood also worked closely with Predators assistant coach Dan Hinote to add energy and physicality to his game. He had already showcased his scoring touch in the AHL with 92 goals in 186 career games, but Nashville needed him to provide more than just pure offense.

“I think the saying is you adapt or you die, right?” Sherwood said. “I’ve had to learn and look myself in the mirror sometimes and kind of adapt to what the team needs. Every team is different; every makeup is different. For what the team needs here, I tried to grow my game.”

McCarron, Sherwood and Smith – dubbed “the identity line” because of their grit – helped fuel the team’s 18-game point streak. Head coach Andrew Brunette trusted the trio in key spots and even used them as his starting line in four first-round playoff games against the Vancouver Canucks.

Per Money Puck, the line played together in 39 regular-season games, scoring 12 goals and allowing just seven. All three players were on expiring contracts, though McCarron and Smith each received two-year extensions during the season.

“It was fun the way we played,” Smith said. “All three of us bought into it and played the same way. We were able to get two of the contracts done, and hopefully Shery can get something done too. He’s earned it.”

Sherwood is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. If Trotz has his way, he may not reach the open market.

“I love it here, obviously,” Sherwood said. “I’ve grown in my identity. I know it’s still kind of fresh and stuff … there’s definitely a business side to everything. We’ll see where things go.”

Follow Russell Vannozzi on X/Twitter @RussellV_MSP.

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