The final forward for the report cards, Boo Nieves came into this season looking to finally crack the NHL roster and stick. Nieves did not crack the roster out of camp, instead needing to wait until a December call up to make The Show. In his defense, he suffered a concussion in training camp and was re-assigned to the AHL in November. I think it’s fair to say that the month in the AHL was more of a conditioning stint and less of a demotion.
Following his call up in December, Nieves stuck with the club for the remainder of the season, putting up a line of 4-6-10 in 43 games, bouncing between third and fourth line roles. Nieves won just 38% of his faceoffs while averaging about 9 minutes of ice time per game. Nieves was awarded a one-year contract extension in February, keeping him with the Blueshirts for one more season.
Suffice it to say, Nieves wasn’t overly good in his 43 games. His xGF% of 39.94% was second-worst on the team to Cody McLeod. He drove just 40% possession (CF%), also second-worst to McLeod. His xGF/60 was an even – and really bad – 2.00, third worst on the team (Lias, McLeod). And to wrap it all up, his xGA/60 was at 3.01, good for second-worst on the team (Howden). Yea, the numbers aren’t overly good.
To see if this was due to his line mates, I pulled up his WOWY chart. Basically every player that he spent the most time with was better when not with Nieves than with him. Now there isn’t much to work with here, since he only played 93 minutes with just four teammates. So we need to expand on this a little.
This shows every player that Neives played with. This jives with what we saw above, that most teammates were worst with Nieves paired with him. However it’s worth noting that when the fourth line had Nieves centering Vlad Namestnikov and Pavel Buchnevich, the combination pulled Nieves up and he punched above his weight class. This is also consistent with what we noted in both player report cards (Namestnikov, Buchnevich). So there’s a silver lining.
At 25 years old, time is running out for Nieves. The former 2nd round pick will need to improve on his entire game, and not just rely on better teammates to prop him up. His all around game was pretty rough, and he was a net-negative. His one-year extension might be his last in New York if he doesn’t improve. Hopefully a better team around him will help.