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Graduated Prospect: Kiefer Sherwood
By Thomas Harrington
Welcome to the first graduated prospect review of the summer: Kiefer Sherwood. As I’ve done the last several years, I’ll be going through and writing about most of Anaheim’s prospects this summer. I’ll start out with the players who graduated from the prospect ranks, followed by prospect profiles for any new prospects the Ducks picked up in the last year, and finally, the prospect updates, where I’ll give updates on all prospects still with the organization that I wrote about a year ago. Unlike last year, where none of Anaheim’s rookies graduated from prospect status, the Ducks have several players who have graduated this season.
The Ducks had signed Sherwood to a two-year entry-level contract last March that began this season. He joined the Gulls on an ATO at the end of last season, played in 11 games, and scored two goals. Before that, he had played for Miami University of Ohio for three seasons and recorded 86 points in 106 NCAA games. It was a decent resume, but not one that screamed: “about to break into the NHL.”
Coming into the season, Anaheim had a plethora of injuries. Anaheim’s top three right wingers, Corey Perry, Ondrej Kase, and Patrick Eaves were on the shelf. Still, the Ducks had Troy Terry, Jakob Silfverberg, and Pontus Aberg as the right wingers on their opening night roster, as well as rookies Max Comtois, Isac Lundestrom, and Sam Steel. Steel and Lundestrom are first-round picks, Comtois had become their top left wing prospect, and Terry had become the team’s top right wing prospect.
At the start of the season, once the Ducks started getting healthy, I figured Sherwood would be one of the first sent down and that he would be used sparingly while with the team. Instead, he outlasted Terry, Steel, Comtois, and Lundestrom and ended up leading all Anaheim rookies in games played, tied for first in goals, and finished second in points.
Sherwood started the season in Anaheim and earned his first career assist in his first career game. He scored his first goal in his fifth game. Sherwood was actually assigned to the Gulls on October 30th, but he was immediately called back up to Anaheim the next day. He remained with the Ducks until mid-January, when he was assigned to the Gulls for a couple of months. By then, he’d already played over 40 games for the Ducks and scored five goals and 10 points. Certainly not eye-popping offensive numbers, but he never gave up on a shift and found a home for himself as one of Anaheim’s checkers and penalty killers.
Sherwood had a bit of a slow start to his time with San Diego, but his offense picked up as the season went along. Overall, he scored six goals and 18 points in 29 games. Most nights, he played on San Diego’s second or third lines and saw a good amount of time on the team’s shorthanded unit. He wasn’t among the four call-ups that Anaheim had after the trade deadline, but once the Ducks hit injury trouble after the deadline, he was called up and played four more games for the Ducks in March. He recorded his first career multi-point night against Vancouver. Overall, he scored six goals and 12 points in 50 games for the Ducks.
He returned to San Diego to finish out the season, and then the Calder Cup Playoffs began. In the playoffs, Sherwood played in all 16 games and scored four goals and eight points. He started things off with a bang, scoring two goals against San Jose in the first game of the Calder Cup Playoffs. He then recorded one assist over the next three games. Against Bakersfield, he scored two more goals and recorded three points overall. Against Chicago, Sherwood recorded only two assists, both of them coming in game two.
In terms of expectations, Sherwood absolutely blew his out of the water. In my mind, there is no Anaheim prospect who had a more surprising season than Sherwood did. I thought he had an outside chance at playing in a couple of NHL games but would spend most of the season in the AHL. Safe to say that I was wrong on that one. Every game he spent in the NHL just showed how hard he was willing to compete to keep his spot with the Ducks. Even though he was eventually sent down, he kept that work ethic up with the Gulls and earned himself another call-up before the season was done.
Despite Sherwood’s great season, he’s not a lock for 82 NHL games this coming season. He’s shown that he can play in the NHL, but the Ducks are deep on the right side. Anaheim has Perry, Kase, Terry, Silfverberg, and Daniel Sprong who will all likely play above Sherwood. However, between injuries and potential trades(especially given the Perry situation), a spot could be opened up for him. Also, the Ducks could try any of these players on the left side, a position that they have traditionally been weak on. So, I’d expect for Sherwood to potentially bounce between Anaheim and San Diego again, but I think there’s a strong chance he spends most of, if not the entire year in Anaheim.
Sherwood probably won’t ever be a consistent 20 goal scorer, but he’s shown that he has the ability to a valuable player on a team’s checking line and chip in with the occasional goal or two. Then again, with how this past season went, it’s possible he could end the coming year as one of Anaheim’s top wingers. However, he’ll likely be more known for his speed and smart defensive play. He could become a mainstay on Anaheim’s penalty kill unit for a long time to come.
Sherwood has one more year left on his contract and he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer. I have little doubt that Anaheim will re-sign him, and if he keeps it up, he’ll have earned himself a one-way deal.
The next graduated prospect will be Jaycob Megna.
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June 9th, 2019