The Colorado Avalanche have re-signed restricted free agent Matt Nieto to a two-year contract worth $3.95 million, or $1.975 million per season AAV. This contract expires at the end of the 2019-20 season. Nieto is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the contract.
Matt Nieto at $1.975 AAV. Two-year deal for RFA forward. #Avs
— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) July 6, 2018
Matt Nieto Re-Signs with the Colorado Avalanche
Drafted 47th overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft by the San Jose Sharks, Matt Nieto experienced a career revival over the last year and a half. After posting just two assists in 16 games for the Sharks in 2016-17, Nieto found himself on waivers. The situation was a major disappointment considering the strong first few years he had with the team. He became the odd-man out that year, and the historically-bad Colorado Avalanche picked him up as a waiver claim.
Nieto immediately made an impact in Colorado, appearing in a career-high 15:56 in ice time through 43 games. His production doubled from where it was in those 16 games in a Sharks uniform too. Although he didn’t help the team win much (again, this team was bad), he laid the groundwork to regain his form from the first two years of his career in 2017-18.
Last season, he scored 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points in 74 games. Coach Jared Bednar favoured deploying Nieto in the defensive zone, where he started 68.0% of his shifts. He also had a career-high shooting percentage of 17.9%. His line with Blake Comeau and Carl Soderberg turned out to be extremely reliable and one of the most consistently used trios by Bednar. They were great in the first round series against the Nashville Predators too, in which Nieto potted three points (all assists) in six games.
Matt Nieto’s Future
Nieto, who turns 26 in November, is a fast player who works hard in all areas of the ice. As a defensive-minded player who can top 10 goals per season, Matt Nieto fits in extremely well here. The Avalanche experienced a major turnaround in 2017-18 largely thanks to the speed they played the game at. That is something that Nieto does well despite being a bottom-six forward.
There is reason to believe Matt Nieto still has a bit more to grow before he reaches his ceiling. Don’t be surprised when he improves on his career-best 15 goal season and breaks the 30 point mark for the first time.
Matt Nieto skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on February 12, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Avalanche 5-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport)