2007-08: Matt Nieto played for Salisbury Prep, scoring 8 goals and adding 10 assists for 18 points in 23 games.
2008-09: Nieto split time between the U.S. NTDP Under-17 and Under-18 squads this season. In 51 games for the U-17 team, he scored 20 goals and chipped in 33 assists for 53 points. In 13 games for the U-18 squad, Nieto scored 6 goals and added 8 assists for 14 points. Nieto earned the first of two consecutive gold medals at the U-18 World Junior Championship as a member of Team USA. In 7 games, he scored 4 goals and added 12 penalty minutes.
2009-10: Nieto split time between the U.S. squad playing in the USHL and the national program. In 24 USHL games, he scored 15 goals and added 14 assists for 29 points. In 54 games for the Under-18 team, Nieto scored 28 goals and added 26 assists for 54 points. He also picked up 1 goal in 3 games for the Under-17 squad. At the 2010 U-18 World Junior Championship, Nieto again earned a gold medal, scoring 1 goal and adding 3 assists for 4 points in 7 games.
2010-11: Nieto played his freshman season at Boston University. In 39 games, he scored 10 goals and added 13 assists for 23 points.
2011-12: Nieto had an excellent sophomore season at Boston University where the speedy winger scored 16 goals along with 26 assists and a solid plus 19 rating in 37 NCAA games. The offensively talented winger played on both specialty teams units, scoring four power play goals, a shorthanded tally and three important game winning goals this year.
2012-13: Nieto signed a three-year entry-level contract with San Jose in April 2013 following his junior season at Boston University. He made his pro hockey debut with Sharks AHL affiliate Worcester, scoring 2 goals with 4 assists in 11 AHL games, and was -4 with 6 penalty minutes. The Sharks missed the AHL playoffs after finishing fourth in the Atlantic Division. Nieto was the second-leading scorer for BU behind fellow Sharks' prospect Dan O'Regan. He scored 18 goals with 19 assists in 39 games and was +5 with 24 penalty minutes. The Terriers finished in a three-way tie for third in Hockey East in the regular season and reached the Hockey East championship game, falling 1-0, to regular season champion Massachusetts-Lowell.
Nieto plays a fundamentally sound game. He has very quick four-step acceleration and uses his explosive speed to force the oppositions’ defensemen to be cautious when defending against him. He carries the puck well during rushes, and delivers a surprisingly good pass from his top speeds. This is surprising as when he is still his passes are not always on point. He is a fairly north and south player, and he is not afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice to score. He has a goal-scorers touch, and he plays with an edge though that edge sometimes takes him away from his game, which causes Nieto to be a very streaky scorer.
When originally drafted defense was considered a huge issue with Nieto, but he has since worked on that facet of his game and demonstrated defensive reliability at the professional level. Nieto projects to be a top-six forward in the future for the Sharks.
Matt Nieto will likely begin his first full professional season with Worcester, but depending on his immediate growth and the status of the San Jose wingers going forward he could find his way into the NHL sooner rather than later.