San Jose Sharks forward Matt Nieto recently wrapped up his first season in the NHL. The rookie finished the year recording 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 73 games. It was a dream come true for the California native when he was drafted by San Jose in Round 2 (47th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft. Nieto reflects back on his draft experience:
Q: Prior to the draft, how were you feeling going into it? Did you have any expectations?
A: Going into the draft, I was hearing from my agent and just seeing things online that I would be around in the first couple of rounds, so I was expecting to go where I did or around there at least. Overall, it was a crazy time of the year, going to the Combine and doing all of the interviews and everything else, but I couldn't be happier with San Jose taking me.
Q: How did it feel when you heard your name called?
A: It was unbelievable. It's hard to really describe it. I'm sitting there waiting and it’s all pretty nerve racking. You really don't know which team is going to pick you. Throughout the process you met with a bunch of teams, so you just don't know. When San Jose traded up and picked me, it was definitely special. It was great getting to meet the entire Sharks staff including the scouts and Doug Wilson. It was all in the moment and I just soaked it all in. Everything was special to me.
Q: What was it like being picked by a California team?
A: It made it that much better. I'd been living away from California since I was 14. So the fact that I was taken by a California team and now I'm playing in California is pretty cool.
Q: What was your interaction with your family when you got picked?
A: At the draft I had my mom, dad and a couple of friends with me. They were all really happy for me. It was one of those times where all their sacrifices and all my hard work finally paid off. I gave them a hug and we celebrated the rest of the night.
Q: What was the rest of your day and weekend like?
A: The rest of the day I spent with my parents and agent. That night we went out to a nice dinner to celebrate. Once I got back home, I enjoyed the week hanging out a lot with family and friends. I ended up having a draft party, which was really cool.
Q: Looking back at it all and now that you've played a season with the Sharks, how would you describe your whole experience leading up to it?
A: I think the timing was perfect. Everything sort of worked out in my favor. I wasn't really expecting to be on the team this past year, but I had a good training camp and I was able to make the team. I can't say that if another team had drafted me that I would have played a season in the NHL yet, so like I said, everything just worked out really well.
Q: What advice would you give the current draft class?
A: Just remember the draft is just one day. Just because you are drafted, doesn't guarantee that you are going to play in the NHL. You just have to work that much harder once you are drafted to reach that main goal, to play in the NHL.