The Colorado Avalanche have once again used the waiver system to bolster their roster, this time claiming forward Matt Nieto from the San Jose Sharks. The 24-year-old forward from Long Beach, California was in the middle of a tough season with a loaded Sharks forward corps and was simply the victim of a numbers game after posting just two assists in his 16 games played. The Avalanche have made frequent use of the waiver system in recent years so it’s not a huge surprise to see them use their priority at the top on a player who very likely would have been claimed by someone else had the Avalanche passed.

Nieto is obviously not going to change the fortunes of the Avalanche on his own but he fits the profile of what they’re looking for as he’s a speedy winger who can get up and down the ice quickly and can chip in points here and there. He’s scored 28 goals across the last three seasons so the Avs aren’t getting a game-breaker here but given how current depth forwards Cody McLeod, Andreas Martinsen, John Mitchell, and Joe Colborne have combined to score just three goals after opening night, clearly an injection of life into this moribund group was needed.

A second round selection by the Sharks in the 2011 NHL Draft, Nieto had a prolific career at Boston University before jumping to professional hockey in 2013. Nieto has tallied 70 points (28 g, 42 a) in 221 NHL games thus far in his career. He’s currently on a one-year deal worth $735K and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

The addition of Nieto also meant the Avalanche were required to make a subsequent roster move and they did. Goaltender Jeremy Smith was sent back down to the San Antonio Rampage to reduce the roster back down to 23.

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AJ Haefele

This Aurora, Colorado native moved to Katy, Texas at a young age but found himself right back at home in 2009 and would begin covering the Avalanche a year later.

Before joining BSN Denver, A.J. had been writing for and briefly managed the popular Avalanche blog, Mile High Hockey. A.J. has been providing detailed practice reports, training camp coverage, and in-depth looks at the Avalanche and their divisional foes since 2010.

  • Special Ed

    Kinda speaks to the Av’s team depth that a player that can’t stay on a contender as a 4th liner will probably be on the Av’s 3rd line and may soon move up to something higher.

    I wish we could bring the kids up. But I also understand that bringing all of them up too soon means this team has RFA contract/cap problems in 3 years, and that means if we do it, we wont be able to keep them all if they are as good as we hope.

    • AJ Haefele

      The hardest part about bringing the kids up right now is what to do with the veterans whose spots they will be taking. They need a landing place for them to go before the kids can make permanent homes in Denver.

      • Special Ed

        Correct me if I’m wrong. If a guy has a one way contract, does that mean he can NOT be sent down at all? I know they still hit the cap, but could we send someone down to SA for training?

        • AJ Haefele

          They can be sent down but you don’t want to fill your San Antonio squad up with a bunch of apathetic angry veterans who don’t want to be in the AHL. That’s a great way to poison that locker room for the prospects who aren’t coming up right away. They need to find a place for them outside the organization before they start the influx of youth.

          • Special Ed

            That’s definitely the long term answer. And I’m not suggesting sending a bunch of them down. But sending down a guy who’s not trying might wake the rest of them up. I know it’s a risky move. but some of these guys seem to have quit. With a little luck, if we waive them, someone picks em up and clears the space for us. (not likely I agree)

            I do believe this team can’t stay this bad much longer. Something will give. Just hoping to find a spark to make it happen. Maybe this pickup will help.

  • John Barleycorn

    Let me see if I’ve got this right.
    We’re in DESPERATE need of a couple really good D-men and instead of trading away some of the under performers to get them, we claim another under performing forward off of waivers?
    Yep, that’s my Avs alright.
    (Walking down the street, kicking cans and muttering to myself… whilst shaking my head!)