Matt Nieto looking for new challenges with Sharks

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

After foregoing his senior season to sign an entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks, Matt Nieto said he’s ready for a new challenge beyond what college hockey can offer him.

“I think that’s what it came down to – I want to challenge myself, and I thought that it was better for my development as well,” Nieto said Monday after joining the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s AHL affiliate.

Nieto said he’s been weighing his options since BU’s season ended on March 23 and only decided to sign with the Sharks “recently.” Outgoing head coach Jack Parker and incoming coach David Quinn had both been notified of his decision by Monday.

“It was up in the air,” Nieto said. “All year I was just trying to focus on winning. I was just waiting till the end of the season to make a decision.”

San Jose drafted Nieto in the second round (47th overall) of the 2011 draft. He said the three-year deal he signed is worth $833,000 per year.

The 20-year-old wing also said he plans on finishing the remaining courses he needs to earn his BU degree over the next few years.

In his junior year, Nieto put up 18 goals and 37 points, with 28 of those points coming after Jan. 4. From mid-February to the end of the season, his line, with sophomore wing Evan Rodrigues and freshman center Danny O’Regan, was BU’s best, with all three playing significant roles both on the power play and at even strength.

O’Regan was also drafted by the Sharks, in the fifth round (138th overall) of the 2012 entry draft. Nieto said with a laugh that it would be exciting to play with O’Regan again at the professional level in the next few years.

Nieto said he didn’t consider leaving BU after his sophomore season, in which he had the second-most points of any Terrier (42) and tied for the second-most goals (16) in 37 games. Known as a streaky scorer, he said sticking around for his junior year helped him in a number of ways.

“I definitely gained maturity,” Nieto said. “I think, along with that, I struggled at the beginning of the year. I know one of my weaknesses is that I need to be more consistent, so I think there’s a lot of things that I can use moving forward from this season.”