Sharks waive Nieto, their first-ever Californian draft pick

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For some time, Matt Nieto‘s been a cool story in San Jose. The Long Beach native was the first-ever Californian to be drafted by the team — 47th overall in 2011 — and, after a solid rookie year in which he scored 10 goals and 24 points in 66 games, looked to be a key part of the Sharks’ future.

Today, that narrative took an abrupt turn.

Nieto was placed on waivers Wednesday, after a difficult season that saw him dress for just 16 of San Jose’s 38 games, failing to score a single goal. Nieto has been out of the lineup since mid-December, when he played just under 12 minutes in a win over Ottawa.

Long regarded for his speed and skating ability, Nieto will almost certainly have suitors on waivers. He posted a career-high 10 goals and 27 points in ’14-15, and only turned 24 in November.

What’s more, Nieto has over 200 games on his resume and some good postseason experience as well — in that aforementioned rookie campaign of ’13-14, he scored five points in seven games, then dressed for 16 games during San Jose’s Stanley Cup Final run last spring.

He’s also affordable, currently on a one-year deal worth $735,000.