How far will the Rangers get this season?

Draft Profile: Matthew Nieto

Matthew Nieto (Via

Matthew Nieto (Via

The Rangers currently have five defensemen under the age of 28 on their roster and two more top prospects on the way, so it’s very likely New York will be looking to add some offensive firepower with its first-round pick, No. 15 overall in the NHL Draft.

Between now and June 24th, we’ll take a look at some of the forwards that the Rangers might be thinking about taking on draft day.  Today, we look at…

Matthew Nieto

HT: 5-11

WT: 175

Pos: LW

Shoots: L

Birthday: 11/5/92

Team: Boston University, Hockey East

2009-2010 stats: 28g, 26a, 54gp, 31PIM (USA, U18)

2010-2011 stats: 10g, 13a, 39gp, 16PIM

2010-2011 playoffs: N/A profile > 



The Hockey News: 42

CSS: 43 Midterm Rank: 55


TSN: 53 Midterm Rank: 58 

TSN (Craig Button): N/A 

The Scouting Report: 43 Midterm Rank: 21 

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch: 44 

Corey Pronman: 44 

ESPN: 49


Highlight Reel > 


What They’re Saying:

THN – “A product of California, Matthew Nieto took the game up when he was given a plastic stick by his grandfather and played inline at the YMCA for two years before hitting the ice.  Geography and a delayed start haven’t hindered Nieto, who had a good rookie season at Boston University and enters the draft as one of many small, talented players.  ‘He’s small and he’s fast,’ one scout said.  ‘If that’s what you’re looking for, he’s your guy.’  Not the heartiest endorsement in the world, but there are positive elements to his game for scouts to notice.  Some compare him favorably to Minnesota prospect Jason Zucker, who started his hockey career in Las Vegas.  Zucker has a better shot and will put up bigger numbers, but Nieto has good offensive instincts as well.  ‘He has good feet and a good skill level,’ another scout said.  ‘His size is probably his only drawback.  If he’s six feet, he’s probably going a lot higher.’”

The Scouting Report – “Nieto was projected to be a first-round pick coming into the year, but had a pretty tough start to his NCAA career and was never quite able to recover the lost ground. He’s undersized, but makes up for it with great speed and the ability to change gears into “breakaway” speed. Handles the puck well and is a pretty opportunistic player who can create for himself with some silky smooth hands. Nieto will have to address some of the deficiencies in his game such as competing harder and showing that he’s willing to sacrifice his body in the corners to make things happen.” 

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch –“We admit that Nieto is lower on this list than he will likely go in June. Another undersized, yet prolific offensive forward with speed to burn, quick hands and a killer instinct around the net. Nieto had high expectations coming into the season, but struggled out of the gate. The player we saw in November was tentative and ineffective in dealing with the higher-end players in the Hockey East, but by March, he was looking like the NTDP standout. He's an outstanding skater with the vision, hands and instincts to score a lot. But our hesitation comes from the difficulty in transitioning to the NCAA taken with his size, which is going to be an obstacle at the highest level. If Nieto can continue to get stronger and play his high octane, aggressively attacking style, he has a chance to do something, but he is a bit risky in that he's more of a top-six scoring guy than an effective checker if he can't get it done in the pros.”

Corey Pronman – “Matt Nieto was one of the top scorers on the USA U-18 team last year, but as a late birthdate, he will be drafted after completing his freshman year at BU. Nieto's best tool is his above-average to plus skating ability. He can get up to an above-average top speed within a few strides with smooth extension. He's very good on his edges with the ability to stop and move around freely and quickly even while in full stride. His puck skills are solid and while I don't see him being able to puck handle through guys at the next level, he can make quick, accurate passes and will be able to set up plays, although I'm not sure if he'll project beyond above-average as a ceiling in that regard. He has a solid shot, but the tool isn't good enough to score a lot without getting them from the high percentage areas. For a sub-6'0" player, Nieto shows decent ability in the physical game from a work ethic standpoint and does go to the slot/crease area, but he has a ways to go in the strength department.”  

Hockey Spy – “What type of player is Matthew Nieto??? The first phrase that comes to mind is “game breaker”. He has an explosion in his skating like a quarter horse out of the starting gate. And he has a passing gear that you only find in cars you can’t afford. He also has the vision, the agility and the hands to make those moves that make defenders look silly. In addition, he competes hard for the puck and is money around the net.  What are the downsides to Matthew Nieto??? First, he is only of modest size and showed some of the effects of that in adjusting to College Hockey. Second, he has consistency and compete issues away from the puck so he either makes it as top 6 or not at all - game breaker or heart breaker, that is the question.” 



Mock Drafts:

Adam Kimelman, – N/A 

Mike Morreale, – N/A 

Steven Hoffner, – N/A 

Deven Persaud, – N/A – N/A 

Gary Joyce, ESPN – N/A 

Mark Seidel, CBC – N/A 

Hockey's Future - N/A

The Hockey News - N/A


Thoughts: The problem with smaller prospects is that they can have plenty of talent, but if other parts of their game aren’t as developed, they don’t have the same chance to succeed as their bigger draft-eligible counterparts.  Matthew Nieto has been criticized for struggling to adapt to college hockey and so many have drawn the conclusion that at his size he may struggle to make it in the NHL.  However, his offensive skills are widely praised and there is a decent chance that he’ll become a top-six forward.  There doesn’t appear to be much middle ground with Nieto, though.  His intensity has been questioned and there haven’t been many positive things said about his play away from the puck.  In the first round, he’d be too big of a risk.  In the second, he’s not a bad boom-or-bust guy.

The Rangers haven’t shied away from taking smaller players in recent years and have frequently dipped into the college ranks.  Nieto is the type of player they will look at in the second round.


Season Review:

Breaking Down The Defense >

Breaking Down The Goalies >

Breaking Down The Offense >

Breaking Down The Prospects >

How Three Free Agent Signings In 2007 Have Shaped The Eastern Conference >

Spotlight On Glen Sather >

Spotlight On John Tortorella >

Rangers Land Tim Erixon: What Does It Mean?

More Erixon Trade Fallout >


Player Reviews:

Spotlight On Mats Zuccarello >

Spotlight On Brian Boyle >

Spotlight On Matt Gilroy >

Spotlight On Ruslan Fedotenko >

Spotlight On Brandon Prust >

Spotlight On Bryan McCabe >

Spotlight On Alex Frolov >

Spotlight On Michael Del Zotto >

Spotlight On Martin Biron >

Spotlight On Brandon Dubinsky >

Spotlight On Marc Staal >

Spotlight On Steve Eminger >

Spotlight On Henrik Lundqvist >

Spotlight On Wojtek Wolski >

Spotlight On Sean Avery >

Spotlight On Dan Girardi >

Spotlight On Erik Christensen >

Spotlight On Ryan McDonagh >

Spotlight On Vinny Prospal >

Spotlight On Derek Stepan >

Spotlight On Marian Gaborik >

Spotlight On Chris Drury >

Spotlight On Artem Anisimov >

Spotlight On Mike Sauer >

Spotlight On Ryan Callahan >


Draft Profiles:

Zack Phillips >

Sven Bartschi >

Mark Scheifele >

Mika Zibanejad > 

Mark McNeill >

Brandon Saad >

Joel Armia >

Nicklas Jensen >

Alexander Khokhlachev >

Tyler Biggs >

Matt Puempel >

Rickard Rakell >

Mario Lucia >

Tomas Jurco >

Dmitri Jaskin >

Phillip Danault >

Rocco Grimaldi >

Ty Rattie >

Daniel Catenacci >

Vladislav Namestnikov >

Nick Shore >

Stefan Noesen >

Boone Jenner >

Matthew Nieto >


Free Agency:

Plan A: Sign Brad Richards >



Posted by Kevin Baumer | June 11, 2011 at 10:53 am

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