SAN JOSE, CA - San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) general manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has signed unrestricted free agent forward Matt Nieto to a one-year contract.
"Matt's a player we're obviously familiar with having been here for our Stanley Cup Final run in 2016 and he plays with speed and energy," said Wilson. "His quickness and defensive responsibility made him one of the top penalty killers on Colorado and we feel that those assets, along with his decision making and playmaking, will bring a lot of elements to our team. We're excited to have Matt back in San Jose."
Nieto, 27, recorded 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists), a career-high plus-seven rating, six penalty minutes, and three game-winning goals in 70 games with the Colorado Avalanche in 2019-20. He led all Avalanche forwards in average shorthanded ice-time per game (2:21), tied for second on the team in shorthanded goals (2) and ranked sixth among Avalanche forwards (min. 20 games) in shot attempts percentage (52.6%). He was one of just two Avalanche players to play in all 70 games this past season and added one goal and two assists in 14 playoff games.
In 472 career NHL games with San Jose and Colorado, Nieto has registered 151 points (62 goals, 89 assists) and 82 penalty minutes. He led Colorado forwards in average shorthanded ice time per game in each of the last two seasons, set a career high in goals (15) during the 2017-18 season and his 19 assists in 2018-19 were a career best. In 55 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Nieto has posted 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) and a plus-16 rating, including appearing in 16 games during San Jose's 2016 Stanley Cup Final appearance.
Prior to his professional career, Nieto played collegiately at Boston University, where he totaled 102 points (44 goals, 58 assists) in 115 career games. He played for the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2008-10, winning back-to-back gold medals with Team USA at the 2009 and 2010 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
The five-foot-eleven, 185-pound native of Long Beach, CA, was originally selected by San Jose in the 2011 NHL Draft (second round, 47th overall) and was the first California-born player selected by the Sharks in the NHL Draft in franchise history.