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Kiefer Sherwood was a hit against the Canucks in the playoffs, and now he can make hits for them

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
7 days ago
This article is brought to you by bet365!
With dozens of contracts and more than a billion dollars thrown around on Free Agent Frenzy 2024, not everyone signed could be a household name.
 
And that would be true of new Vancouver Canuck skater Kiefer Sherwood, signed to a two-year, $1.5 million AAV contract on Monday…
…except that this is a name that Vancouver and its fans already know well. That’s because Sherwood made a big impression in the Canucks’ first round matchup against the Nashville Predators this past postseason – and now he’s poised to make a similar impact for his new team.
Hindsight-Free Analysis
In the interest of transparency, we’ve been starting these instant reactions with whatever analysis we previously offered up about these players before the Canucks signed them. We featured Sherwood on our “11 bottom-six forward UFAs for the Vancouver Canucks to consider as they fill out their roster” piece, and wrote this:
Kiefer Sherwood, Nashville Predators
RW, 29, 6’0”, 194lb
2023/24 Cap HitGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
$775K6810172712:1052.2%
Canucks fans know this name. Sherwood was noticeable throughout Vancouver’s first round matchup against the Nashville Predators, and that was usually because he was slamming into someone.
Old-school energy is what he provides, and that should be no surprise coming from someone named after a hockey stick. He doesn’t do anything particularly well, but made great strides at both ends of the ice since joining Nashville. This looks like it was a career season, and those numbers might not be replicated, but at the very least Sherwood is now established as a full-time NHL player.
And now, an established full-time CANUCK. Here’s what he brings to the table, needs-wise:
 
Physicality: Check
With Nikita Zadorov out the door, any physicality that the Canucks could add back into their lineup was desirable, and Sherwood certainly qualifies on quantity.
He threw 234 hits last season at a rate of 16.96 hits-per-60, the most of any Predator, and the 25th most amongst all NHLers.
The only Canuck to throw hits at a greater rate than Sherwood last year? Vasily Podkolzin. Go figure!
Sherwood hits especially hard on the forecheck, and is often seen hurling himself at the opposition with reckless abandon.
It’s a risky form of play, but then the Canucks are only committed to Sherwood for two years. They can safely count on about 500 hits thrown between those two seasons.
Sherwood posted a top speed of 23MPH this season, according to NHL EDGE, which ranked in the 86th percentile. Sherwood hits fast and hard and often.
 
Agitation: Check
Sherwood doesn’t just play physical, he plays aggressively, and often in the form of an agitator.
He drew penalties at a rate of 1.23-per-60 last season, and in recent years has drawn opponents as skilled as Tage Thompson, Brent Hagel, and Jesse Puljujarvi into fights.
Sherwood won’t win every scrap he starts, but he’ll start them all the same, and that all goes toward making the Canucks a tougher team to play against.
To go back to hitting for a moment, Sherwood threw 33 hits in six games against the Canucks in the postseason. That got the Canucks noticing him, and that led to Sherwood pacing the Predators in takeaways per 60 with 3.34.
He’s a player who makes other players look over their shoulders when he’s on the ice, and who encourages opponents to take another poke at him after the whistle. Both traits will benefit the Canucks.
 
General Defensive Responsibility: Check
Sherwood has only recently established himself as an everyday NHL player, and thus his defensive responsibilities have been kept minimal to this point, including a lack of opportunity while shorthanded.
But the potential is there, and Sherwood has handled everything that he’s been handed well.
We’re talking a limited deployment here of just 12:10 per night on average, but Sherwood put together a sparkling advanced statline during those minutes. At 5-on-5, Sherwood posted a 52.20% Corsi, a 51.77% xG, a 50.80% control of scoring chances, and a 53.28% control of high-danger scoring chances specifically.
In terms of raw results, Sherwood was on the ice for 36 even-strength goals for and just 20 against.
From HockeyViz.com
Sure, the quality of competition is low here, but so is the quality of teammates, and that’s typical fourth liner stuff. The Canucks have signed Sherwood to skate on their fourth line, and he can absolutely do so without being any sort of defensive liability, something that is required for consistent minutes under Rick Tocchet.
 
Untapped Offensive Potential?: Check
Last year was really Sherwood’s first full season in the NHL.
He played 50 games as a rookie for Anaheim in 2018/19, then 10, then 16, then 11, then 32, before breaking out for a 68-game showing with Nashville this past year.
That Sherwood managed ten goals and 27 points in those aforementioned limited minutes suggests that there may be some untapped offensive potential still at play here.
Sherwood’s 2023/24 shooting percentage of 9.1% was actually a sharp drop from his previous two campaigns (11.1% and 12.3%). So regression isn’t likely to be a major factor.
Sherwood did put up 36 goals and 75 points in 57 games for the Colorado Eagles of the AHL in 2021/22. Putting up points is not entirely a foreign concept to him.
And the Canucks don’t really need all that much offence from Sherwood. He’s essentially a Sam Lafferty replacement. Lafferty scored 13 goals and 24 points in about the same amount of ice-time as Sherwood received last season.
If he can just put up those points a little more consistently and evenly than Lafferty did, Sherwood could even be seen as a slight offensive upgrade.
 
One of the Best Names in Hockey: Check
This one needs no explanation.
“Kieferrrrr Sherrrrwoooooddd!”
 

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