January 04 2017 02:21PM
On Wednesday morning, the San Jose Sharks placed winger Matt Nieto on waivers. Nieto, a jack-of-all-trades player who is only 24 years old was a top-nine forward for current Oilers coach Todd McLellan during their time together in San Jose.
In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we ask whether Edmonton should reunite Nieto with the coach under whom he had his best years.
Nieto was originally selected in the second round of the 2011 Draft out of Boston University, where he played three years under the nose of then-Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. The Hockey News projected him that year as a two-way forward and praised his skating ability. An unnamed scout offered the following capsule summary to the magazine:
He has good feet and a good skill level. His size is probably his only drawback. If he’s six feet, he’s probably going a lot higher.
Nieto played two years in Boston after being drafted, than jumped to the NHL after just 13 games of minor-league seasoning, debuting for McLellan on the 2013-14 Sharks.
As a rookie, Nieto was used in all situations. At evens he played a lot with good players—Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, plus Tommy Wingels—and did pretty well. His shot metrics were decent but not spectacular on that team, but the real problem was that he didn’t score the way a player in that situation should have. His 1.34 points/hour ranked 10th on the team, and was on par with an average third-liner league-wide.
He did have solid scoring numbers in spot duty on the power play, and the Sharks did well when he was out on the penalty kill, too.
A year later, Nieto was again playing with quality linemates. His shot metrics improved, but his scoring remained unremarkable—again, his hourly rate (1.25 points/hour) ranked 10th on the team and was in the third-line range league-wide. He played significant minutes on the penalty kill and fared well; he also played on the power play and was less impressive.
Since McLellan’s departure, things have been more difficult for Nieto. His power play time was taken away and his even-strength minutes reduced. He was shifted to more of a defensive specialist role and his point scoring rate fell to fourth-line levels. After scoring 20 total goals in two years under McLellan, he has just 19 points in the season-and-a-bit since his departure.
Cap-wise, Nieto makes just $735,000 and is a restricted free agent this summer.
- The good: His lines have done a good job of driving puck possession. He’s young and cheap. He plays a well-rounded game and has speed to burn. He has history with McLellan and is a known quantity to Chiarelli as well.
- The bad: He’s undersized. His career scoring rates and 7.5 shooting percentage at the NHL level suggest a player without the offensive chops to play above the third line long-term.
Would you claim him for the Oilers?