Matt Nieto

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Matt Nieto
Matt Nieto.jpg
Nieto with the San Jose Sharks in 2016
Born (1992-11-05) November 5, 1992 (age 26)
Long Beach, California, U.S.
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Left wing
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
Colorado Avalanche
San Jose Sharks
NHL Draft 47th overall, 2011
San Jose Sharks
Playing career 2013–present

Matthew Evan Nieto (born November 5, 1992) is an American professional ice hockey left winger currently playing for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the second round, 47th overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Early life and career[edit]

Nieto is of Mexican-American descent. Nieto's father, Jesse, is a longshoreman, while his mother, Mary, is a Nordstrom makeup artist.[1]

Nieto grew up in Long Beach, California, in a dangerous neighborhood; his mother had stated: "There were drive-by shootings. He jokes about it, that Snoop Dogg lived around the corner. It's true, but Matt wasn't born then."[2]

When he was two years old, Nieto became interested in skating, particularly rollerblading, when he saw his sister skating in the family's house. His grandfather later bought him a hockey stick, and when he was three Nieto began playing roller hockey at the YMCA.[3] As a youth, he played in the 2004 and 2005 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournaments with the Los Angeles Hockey Club minor ice hockey team, and was teammates with Emerson Etem and Rocco Grimaldi.[4]

Nieto has a sister with Down syndrome and autism and his mother is battling advanced breast cancer.[5][6]

Playing career[edit]


Nieto began attending Salisbury School, a preparatory school, in Salisbury, Connecticut, at the start of his sophomore year of high school. In one season with the school's hockey team, he scored eight goals and ten assists in 28 games. The performance drew the attention of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and Nieto subsequently moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to play in the Program.[7] In 2008–09, he played for the under-17 and under-18 teams, scoring 20 goals and 33 assists and six goals and eight assists, respectively. The next season, he played for the Program's United States Hockey League (USHL) team, scoring 15 goals and 14 assists; he also returned to the under-17 team, scoring one goal.[8]

After participating in the Program, Nieto was offered a chance to play major junior hockey for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League (WHL), but opted to attend college instead and play at the collegiate level.[9] When choosing colleges, Nieto decided between Boston University and Boston College,[7] and elected to attend the former on a full scholarship.[1] In his freshman year, Nieto scored 10 goals and 13 assists.[7] The next year, he scored 16 goals and 26 assists with a plus-minus rating of +19.[8] In 2012, Nieto scored 18 goals, second-most on the team behind Dan O'Regan, and 19 assists. He ended his Terriers career with 44 goals and 102 points in 115 games.[10]

Nieto was ranked the 43rd-best prospect and the second-best player in the NCAA's Hockey East conference by among the 2011 draft class.[11] Hockey's Future stated he had struggled earlier in his career defensively, but had since improved. They added he had "explosive speed," and excels with puck handling and passing while moving. The website gave him a 7.5/10 talent score.[8]

In the Draft's second round, Nieto was selected by the San Jose Sharks with the 47th overall pick,[10] their first pick of the draft.[12] Nieto became the first Californian to be selected by the team.[1] Regarding Nieto, Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke stated, "We were watching this guy over two years now. He has offensive ability on the rush and has shown he can do other roles, like penalty kill."[12]


Nieto signed a three-year, $2.3 million contract with the Sharks on April 1, 2013.[13][14] He spent time with the Sharks' then-American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Worcester Sharks, during the year, playing in 11 games.[15] He scored two goals with four assists, a −4 plus-minus rating and six penalty minutes.

Nieto made his NHL debut against the Vancouver Canucks on October 3, 2013.[16] He scored his first career NHL goal against Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers on October 8, off assists by Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels.[17] Nieto, however, returned to Worcester over one month later, on November 25,[18] though he was later recalled on December 7.[19] Despite being reassigned to the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL on December 18,[20] Nieto was recalled by the Sharks three days later after an injury to forward Tomáš Hertl.[21]

Nieto scored his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal on April 22, 2014, via an empty net goal against the Los Angeles Kings.[22]

In the 2016–17 season, Nieto struggled to retain his role in adding an offensive touch to the Shark's bottom six forwards. Surpassed in the depth chart, Nieto played in just 16 games with 2 assists before he was placed on waivers in order to gain more playing time. Nieto was claimed off waivers by the Colorado Avalanche the following day, on January 5, 2017.[23]

On July 25, 2017, Nieto and the Avalanche avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1 million contract.[24] Nieto set career high's in the 2018 season with 74 games played and 15 goals scored. After the year the Avalanche signed Nieto to a two-year deal worth $3.95 Million in July 2018.[25]

International play[edit]

Medal record
Representing  United States
Men's ice hockey
IIHF World U18 Championships
Gold medal – first place 2009 United States
Gold medal – first place 2010 Belarus

Nieto was first selected to represent the United States at the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships, posting four goals in seven games to help capture the gold medal.[26] He was reselected the following year and successfully defended Team USA's gold medal at the 2010 IIHF World U18 Championships.

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2008–09 U.S. National Under-18 Team NAHL 38 11 24 35 14
2009–10 U.S. National Under-18 Team USHL 21 14 14 28 18
2010–11 Boston University HE 39 10 13 23 16
2011–12 Boston University HE 37 16 26 42 26
2012–13 Boston University HE 39 18 19 37 24
2012–13 Worcester Sharks AHL 11 2 4 6 0
2013–14 San Jose Sharks NHL 66 10 14 24 16 7 2 3 5 0
2013–14 Worcester Sharks AHL 2 2 3 5 0
2014–15 San Jose Sharks NHL 72 10 17 27 20
2015–16 San Jose Sharks NHL 67 8 9 17 10 16 1 2 3 8
2016–17 San Jose Sharks NHL 16 0 2 2 4
2016–17 Colorado Avalanche NHL 43 7 4 11 4
2017–18 Colorado Avalanche NHL 74 15 11 26 14 6 0 3 3 2
2018–19 Colorado Avalanche NHL 64 4 19 23 8
NHL totals 402 54 76 130 76 29 3 8 11 10


Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2009 United States WJC18 1st, gold medalist(s) 7 4 0 4 12
2010 United States WJC18 1st, gold medalist(s) 7 1 3 4 4
Junior totals 14 5 3 8 16


  1. ^ a b c Pollak, Dave (April 7, 2014). "San Jose Sharks rookie Matt Nieto helps his mom fight cancer". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  2. ^ Morley, Sie (Oct 14, 2017). "Making their mark: Latinos in hockey". Fear The Fin. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  3. ^ Pollak, David (April 7, 2014). "San Jose Sharks rookie Matt Nieto helps his mom fight cancer". The Mercury News. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  4. ^ "Pee-Wee players who have reached NHL or WHA" (PDF). Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. 2018. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  5. ^ Costello, Brian (Apr 23, 2014). "SAN JOSE SHARKS ROOKIE MATT NIETO HAS A STORY THAT TUGS AT THE HEART STRINGS". The Hockey News. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  6. ^ Bourne, Justin (May 9, 2014). "Matt Nieto, and the hockey moms who make dreams possible". Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Dillon, Kevin (October 11, 2012). "A hockey nomad: Matt Nieto's journey from California kid to BU hockey star". The Daily Free Press. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Matt Nieto". Hockey's Future. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  9. ^ Zeltman, Bill (April 27, 2011). "The NCAA and the 2011 NHL Draft: Matthew Nieto". MTR Media. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Nieto leaves Boston University, signs with San Jose". USCHO News. April 1, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  11. ^ "2011 NHL Entry Draft: FINAL RANKINGS". National Hockey League. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Pollak, Dave (June 25, 2011). "San Jose Sharks draft California native Matt Nieto". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  13. ^ "Nieto leaves Boston University, signs with San Jose". April 1, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  14. ^ "Matt Nieto signs one-year contract with Sharks". July 18, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  15. ^ Pollak, Dave (October 22, 2013). "San Jose Sharks rookie Matt Nieto right at home during practice". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  16. ^ Pashelka, Curtis (October 3, 2013). "Sharks rookies Tomas Hertl, Matt Nieto to see action in season opener". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  17. ^ "New York Rangers at San Jose Sharks – 10/08/2013". San Jose Sharks. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  18. ^ Kurz, Kevin (November 25, 2013). "Nieto reassigned to Worcester". Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  19. ^ Kurz, Kevin (December 7, 2013). "Sharks recall Nieto, Hamilton from Worcester". Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  20. ^ "Sharks Reassign Matt Nieto to San Francisco". San Jose Sharks. December 18, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  21. ^ Kurz, Kevin (December 20, 2013). "Hertl to miss at least a month with knee injury". Archived from the original on December 23, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  22. ^ Beachem, Greg (April 23, 2014). "Sharks beat Kings 4–3 in OT, take 3–0 series lead". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  23. ^ "Avalanche claims winger Matt Nieto from San Jose Sharks". Denver Post. 2017-01-05. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
  24. ^ Arthur, Benjamin (July 25, 2017). "Matt Nieto signs one-year, $1 million deal to remain with Avalanche". The Denver Post. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Peters, Chris. "Matthew Nieto". USA Hockey Magazine. Retrieved December 22, 2013.

External links[edit]