SAN JOSE -- Matt Nieto is looking to maximize what looks like a prime opportunity to impress the Sharks' coaching staff Saturday night as the left winger will be on a line with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels for San Jose's home game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Nieto skated in San Jose's preseason opener against Vancouver on Sept. 16, as he played on a line with Rylan Schwartz and Matt Pelech. But playing with Pavelski and Wingels will give Nieto a chance to skate with two players who are expected to have significant roles with the Sharks this season.
"I'm fortunate to be playing with Pavelski and Wingels tonight, and I'm going to make the most of it," Nieto said Saturday morning. "I'm going to work as hard as I can and try to complement these two players with what I do."
Although Nieto was held off the scoresheet against the Canucks, and did not play in Friday's game against Anaheim, there was plenty to gain. He said as he watched Friday's game, some coaches were giving him pointers about the Sharks' system and have been encouraging about his performance.
Nieto, listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, said his first game for the Sharks against Vancouver, "was exciting. What I took away is to make the simple plays. It's fast game out there, so when you make mistakes, you're going to pay."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan has liked what he has seen from Nieto so far in training camp, adding that he is very much in the mix to be a part of the team once the preseason ends.
"He has tremendous speed, flat out end to end speed, but he's also quick," McLellan said. "He can get from A to B in small areas. For a smaller man, he doesn't get pushed off a lot of pucks, so he's not picking himself up off the ice all the time.
"He has the ability to grasp the concepts we're trying to put into place. My opinion of him is he's having a real positive training camp."
Nieto, a Long Beach native, said Saturday morning there was a chance his parents, Mary and Jesse, would make the trip from Southern California to see him play. The last time they watched Nieto live, he was playing for Boston University at the Beanpot Tournament in Boston. Nieto signed with the Sharks out of BU in March and played 11 games for Worcester, scoring six points.