Boston University junior forward Matt Nieto has decided to forgo his senior year and sign with the San Jose Sharks, according to The Boston Hockey Blog. Nieto will report to Worcester to join the Sharks' AHL affiliate.
And so kicks off the offseason NHL signings / early departures watch in Hockey East.
Nieto was the Terriers' second leading scorer this season, tallying 18 goals and 19 assists in 39 games. He finished with the team lead in goals and second in points behind fellow Sharks prospect freshman Danny O'Regan. After a slow start to the season, Nieto turned it on down the stretch, adding 28 of his 37 points after the break including two helpers in BU's 6-3 victory over Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals.
The Long Beach, Calif., native was drafted by the Sharks in the second round (47th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft.
Boston University loses a total of six seniors to graduation this offseason -- F Wade Megan (Florida Panthers), F Ryan Santana, D Sean Escobedo, D Ryan Ruikka, F / D Ben Rosen and F / D Jake Moscatel. Another six players have been drafted by NHL clubs -- freshman forward Danny O'Regan (San Jose Sharks), freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (Boston Bruins), junior defenseman Garrett Noonan (Nashville Predators), freshman forward Sam Kurker (St. Louis Blues), freshman forward Wesley Myron (Vancouver Canucks), sophomore forward Yasin Cissé (Winnipeg Jets) and freshman goalie Sean Maguire (Pittsburgh Penguins).
With the exception of Noonan, I wouldn't think any of these players are flight risks at this point, but you never know with the coaching change at BU. Sounds like Noonan is excepted to return for his senior season under first year coach David Quinn.