June 25, 2011SHARKS PAGE SHARKSVIDEO
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Among the series of questions on Matthew Nietos online biography was his favorite NHL team: The Los Angeles Kings.
Makes sense. Before heading east to pursue his hockey career, Nieto grew up in southern California.
But that all changed late Saturday morning at Xcel Energy Center when the Sharks selected Nieto with 47th overall in the NHL Draft.
Those days are over, said Nieto, already outfitted in a Sharks cap and sweater. Im a Sharks fan now.
And the Sharks were fans of Nieto to the point that general manager Doug Wilson traded a 2012 third-round pick to Montreal in order to move up 12 spots in the second round.
Nietos selection started a busy day for the Sharks, who made headlines Friday by trading for Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns.
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Including the deal to snag Nieto, Wilson made one other trade of picks with Winnipeg and ended the draft with six new players a left wing (Nieto), two defensemen and three centers.
Everybody says they did well at the end of the day, but 3-4 years from now, well know for sure, Wilson said. The guys we identified, we certainly went after and got so were pleased.
Wilsons day started by meeting with Burns and his wife less than 24 hours after shipping Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick to the Wild.
He seems very excited, as are we, Wilson said of his conversation with Burns.
Once back at the draft table, Wilson and his staff selected Nieto, defenseman Justin Sefton (No. 89), centers Sean Kuraly (No. 133) and Daniil Sobchenko (No. 166), defenseman Dylan Demelo (No. 179) and center Colin Blackwell (No. 194).
Nieto played his minor hockey in California until age 14 when he transferred to the Salisbury School in Connecticut and then to the USA Development Team in Michigan before playing last year at Boston University. He posted eight goals and 13 assists in 36 games for the Terriers.
We liked his hockey sense and compete factor, Wilson said. We think he fits into the type of player we want.
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Nieto intends to play at least one more year of college hockey.
If theyre in a good program, we have no problem with them staying, Wilson said.
Nieto credits the decision to leave home at an early age as a big part of his development.
Getting exposure out east, I thought it was important for me to do that, he said. But its nice being back in California to try and pursue a career.
Sefton is a solid 6-foot-2, 209 pounder who had 11 points and 166 penalty minutes last year for the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League.
Hes a big, physical kid, Wilson said.
The run on centers three in the last four picks began with Kuraly, a native of Dublin, Ohio who played for the United States Hockey Leagues Indiana Ice. He was eighth on the team with 29 points.
Kuraly said he will play for Indiana this year and then attend Miami (Ohio) University.
Im looking to fine tuning my offensive skill before getting to college, he said. Im working on the offensive side, the awareness, a little bit but I think I add character in the dressing room and can be a leader.
Kuraly was surprised San Jose called his name.
There were teams that I talked to more and a couple teams that I thought had more interest but passed, he said. San Jose talked to me a little bit, but not as much.
The next center was the Sharks lone non-North American pick the Urkanian-born Sobchenko, who could develop into a bruising pivot (6-2, 192). A bonus for Sobchenko is he played 16 games in the Kontinental Hockey League against older players.
After Demelo, who played for Mississauga St. Michaels of the OHL, the Sharks took one last center to wrap up the draft Massachusetts prep schooler Blackwell. He had 66 points and is headed to Harvard this fall.
Of taking three centers, Wilson said: Best player available. Thats what we do. We never waver from that approach.
Overall in the draft, defenseman led the way (72), followed by center (58) and left wing (31). Nieto, Kuraly and Blackwell were three of the 64 United States-born players drafted.