Matt Nieto was unable to crack the active lineup because of the depth of talent among San Jose Sharks forwards. Thus, he is now with the Colorado Avalanche…
In the end, there were just too many talented San Jose Sharks forwards for Matt Nieto to crack the lineup. The franchise that drafted and groomed him thus waived him Wednesday, Jan. 5.
This might seem a surprise to those not close to the situation. Nieto is a 24-year old former second-round draft pick. He was good enough to play for a Stanley Cup finalist last June. He was even active for 16 games of the 2016-17 NHL season.
The reality is San Jose knows Nieto is still worthy of a chance to meet his potential. In fact, that is the impetus of the move.
His window for playing a daily role with this team was already closing when he signed. The early emergence of young forwards Kevin LaBanc and Timo Meier has left no room for Nieto. Tomas Hertl will return at some point while Tommy Wingels is also scratched and already of him on the depth chart.
Moreover, there are other San Jose Barracuda forwards ready for a chance this season. Barclay Goodrow, Nikolay Goldobin, Ryan Carpenter and Daniel O’Regan have made their NHL debuts and are playing well for the AHL squad.
Next for Nieto
Perhaps in a sign of his worth, the first team that could claim Nieto did. He goes to the 12-25-1 Colorado Avalanche per CSN Bay Area Insider Kevin Kurz Thursday, Jan. 5.
Meier’s ascension to the Sharks pushed Nieto to the press box the last eight games. The Avalanche have an immediate need on the fourth line.
Nieto lacks the finishing skill for the scoring-line role he was originally projected to fill. He lacks the physicality to be a great checking-line forward.
However, Nieto has never lacked for effort and skates as well as anyone. He has a few years before he even reaches his potential.
Moreover, his teammates like him and he has big-game experience. NHL teams that can will find a place for such is a player because there is enough chance it pays off.