WWYDW: Should Edmonton Grab Matt Nieto Off Waivers?

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.

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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

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.

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Baggedmilk on #theLOCKERROOM: Oilers are in must win territory

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

Cap-wise, Nieto makes just
and is a restricted free agent this summer.

Summing up:

  • 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
  • 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.

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Would you claim him for the Oilers?  

  • The goal highlights above are well worth watching, too. For anyone at work: Lots of empty-net goals and point blank stuff.

    That he’s willing to go to the net is good, but there’s absolutely nothing there that will dispel the notion that Nieto has trouble finishing plays.

  • Cheesums

    I’d put in a claim for him but I have a feeling someone above the Oilers grabs him. The log jam on the left wing doesn’t make a fit for him right now. But if the team seems so adamant to get Pouliot out (I’m not) then he could be a cheap replacement to fill that role.

  • Shredder

    Not sure where we sit with a 50 man list, but if we’re worried about adding other players at the deadline then maybe we should let him go. Otherwise I don’t think there’s a lot of risk in picking him up. Is he worse than Lander?

  • kiaora

    Player seems like Lander – good solid hockey kid, but lacks the scoring touch necessary for an NHL career. Can dominate at AHL, but will never be a full time NHLer. I’d pass, as it costs a roster spot we might need for playoffs.

  • OilCan2

    Take him if you are planning on sending Pulujarvi to California.

    There’s no reason to protect him for the Expansion Draft and we could always use a good skater.

    • Anton Khudobin was waived today. He has a pretty decent career track record, but his last three seasons look like this:

      • 2014-15: 34GP, 8-17-6, 0.900 SV%
      • 2015-16: 9GP, 3-3-0, 0.909 SV%
      • 2016-17: 8GP, 1-5-1, 0.885 SV%

      He might be worth a claim anyway, except that he’s under contract for this year and next at a $1.2 million cap hit.

  • vetinari

    Playoff teams need defensive players. Take him but only if he clears waivers and you can send back a like value contract (Pochiro, Yakimov, Moroz?). With Pitlick injured and the team likely going to move on from Hendricks (age) or Pouliot (play) at some point, a depth winger trusted by the coach may be a good addition.

    @Willis – Capfriendly.com says that Boston’s Anton Khudobin is also on waivers– would he be a step up on our backup? He’s had a mediocre year and clocks in at $1.2M/2 year but posted decent numbers for Anaheim and Carolina in the two previous seasons. Thoughts?

    EDIT: beat me to the question!

  • Total Points

    Oilers dont need another 3rd or 4th liner.

    Oilers need to deal with the play of RNH, Eberle and Pouliot. If these three played up to their standards from prior years, the Oilers would have 3 more wins.

    They are from the Hall core era and may be upset about the Hall trade, more a question than a statement.

    Something is wrong here.

      • btrain

        It’s time to stop with the Lowe and Co. blaming. How does dwelling and blaming past management/players do anything helpful in the present. This type of thinking perfectly represents the meaning of the expression “kicking a dead horse”. It’s time to move on and if you have any current issue with management and the roster, you call out Chia. To do anything otherwise undermines his competency and ability to make his own decisions and run an NHL team.

    • Scratch

      Definitely, this road trip may answer a lot of questions, if they don’t pull up their skates for the next 3 games the playoff hope will be flickering. I just don’t get why Puljarvi is still up here and worse why at the time of the draft he was a coin toss with Laine but he’s complete bust here..All the scouts cannot be wrong and we’re screwing the kid up. Also Pouliot needs press box time along with Hendricks who unfortunately is past his due date. I just don’t like the teams energy and how they come out of the gate. We need more Patrick Maroons and some new blood from the farm

  • Weiss-Johnson1

    Putting a claim in on Khudobin would allow us to put him up for the expansion draft instead of LB. we could then put Gustafson on waivers.
    Nieto looks to have quick hands and faster than Hendricks if we get rid of him or Pouliot at the trade deadline.

  • Stone Cold Iceman

    Honestly, I would leave it up to Todd if he thinks this kid should be picked up if we get that chance. He knows this kid well enough, better than a scout would. That is if no one else scoops him. Anything to better the team. Others were against us getting Russell. I knew what we were getting and he WANTS to remain in AB. He has made me happy with signing here. But that’s just my opinion.

  • Mitch92

    Plucking a player off the waiver wire is always a gamble. Why was he waived in the first (or second or third or…) place? On one hand he could be a cheap warm body to fill out the season with who can step in when inevitable injuries happen. On the other hand there will be opportunities at better players as play-off hopeful teams attempt to shore up their rosters ahead of the trade deadline. We will want to have a roster spot or two available for when sudden opportunities arise.

  • Ron Burgundy

    No to Nieto I’d say. But too bad Ty Rattie didn’t make it down to us! I’d have to guess Chia put a claim in for him, but our success this year means we are well down the waiver priority list.

    On a related note, the Canes now have 7 players who can play RW. They also have a number of interesting D prospects, and are likely going to struggle with the cap floor next season. Possible trade partner for one of our bigger contracts?

    • I’m not big on Rattie. His AHL totals really aren’t that good, and he wouldn’t be the first undersized/slower-skating guy to score big in junior but fail to stick in the NHL.

      A waiver claim doesn’t cost much and sometimes they surprise but at least with a guy like Nieto you know the wheels are good even if the offensive upside isn’t there.

  • Ever the Optimist

    I would personally say no to Nieto as we have options to fill the third line like slepyshev.

    One that might be worth more to us would not be a waiver pick up but the last of Martin Hazals contract. Last few years he has dominated the face off dot. He has a positive corsi relalative on a horrible team. would slot in nicely as 2nd/3rd center and allow hopkins or draistl to play wing higher up the batting order.

  • Rama Lama

    I think we have a lot better options either now or upcoming. I for one am sick and tired trying to buy on the low/down, and waiting for something big.

    I’m troubled by our last three games as it seems something is not quite right…….maybe the flu bug?

    Just seems like the team is out of sync!

  • hockey1099

    Good advanced stats? Well hell yes let’s claim him. Yeah corsi. Or maybe not. Can’t score, adds to our 50 man list and is a winger not a center. Low or no scoring wingers aren’t valuable. We have lander he is damn good at not scoring in the NHL, killing penalties and can win face-offs quite well. Why waste a contract on players we already have in the system.