The San Jose Sharks extended their last outstanding Restricted Free Agent tonight as they locked up 23-year-old Matt Nieto who you may not have realized is a native of the Long Beach area of California. The contract is a one-year, one-way deal worth $735,000 dollars and was first reported by Renaud Lavoie. A second-round pick (47th overall) of the San Jose Sharks in the 2011 entry draft, Nieto has played 205 games in his NHL career scoring 28 goals, 40 assists for 68 points over three NHL seasons.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) July 16, 2016
After accumulating 24 points in the 2013-14 season and improving to 27 points in the 2014-15 season he has frustrated some fans because his offensive numbers took a nose dive this past season falling to 17 points. Some fans love Matt Nieto’s speed but not his hands and he has been compared by many to former shark Torrey Mitchell. I actually like Matt Nieto a lot I think his game on the defensive side of the puck is criminally underrated and while not a big physical presence is smart with the puck and has the speed to move it out of harms way. While he may not have the offensive upside that many had hoped for I’d argue he is still a great bottom six option for the San Jose Sharks.
When the Thomas Hertl extension was signed I mused that this would potentially really push down the value of the contracts of both Dylan DeMelo and Matt Nieto but I would never have imagined that both signings would come in at such a bargain. I am often critical of Doug Wilson for many things, like in my opinion a substandard 2016 draft but I have to take my hat off to him for his work in free agency and the way he has managed his own RFA contracts because at there is a lot of value to the contracts signed this offseason.
This contract will be a make or break contract for Nieto as he will suffer a serious risk of being passed on the depth chart going forward beyond this season with a hungry crop of prospects looking to make their jump from the Barracuda.