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2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Cristoval “Boo” Nieves

Cristoval “Boo” Nieves, C

Birthplace: Baldwinsville, New York, 1/23/94
Bio: 6’3, 180 lbs., L
Kent School (CT), US-HS (Also the Indiana Ice of the USHL)
Rankings: ISS – NR; CSS – 27 (NA)

The Skinny: With excellent size and elite speed, Cristoval “Boo” Nieves might be the best talent from the New England Prep circuit, but his finishing ability and the level of competition he faced raise significant questions.

New England High School players – with few exceptions – are generally regarded as secondary or tertiary prospects because of the modest level of competition and minimal games per season. Cristoval “Boo” Nieves is one of the exceptions. The New York-born Nieves has been wowing scouts for the past two seasons at the Kent School in Connecticut (and the Indiana Ice of the USHL) and has the overall game to earn interest as early as the late first round.

Nieves’ prime attraction is his rare combination of size and speed. Size can’t be taught – and at 6’3, Nieves stands tall above the competition. His skating game is truly a wonder to behold – almost certainly the fastest draft-bound prep student, Nieves has earned comparisons to the speediest in this class including Pontus Åberg, Nail Yakupov and Andreas Athanasiou . With plus-acceleration; a long, graceful stride and an elite top-gear Nieves has the wheels to excel in the NHL.

Offensively, he projects more as a distributor than a sniper. While he has a heavy shot and a solid release, there has been some mention of difficulties finishing the golden opportunities he creates with his anticipation and speed. He only scored seven goals and thirty-nine points in 26 games with Kent – not exactly prodigious numbers for a player with purported first-round potential against the ‘middling’ competition of the high school circuit.

With his big frame and skating game, teams want to see more of a commitment to taking the body than he’s shown thus far. Furthermore, many teams wanted to see how Nieves fares against better competition (he joined the USHL’s Indiana Ice after his Prep season was done, grabbing ten points in thirteen games) with the hope that his game and production didn’t suffer. His performance – neither poor nor eye-grabbing – leaves many questions still unanswered.

Nieves’ combination of tantalizing abilities and concerning issues will likely see him bounce around between the late-first and second-rounds of mock drafts, such is the fate of boom-or-bust prospects… Some team enamored with his size/speed combination could take him high as the early twenties, but he’s a safer bet to fall to the thirty to fifty range.

Ideal Fits: Teams in the second round looking for a potential-heavy forward: San Jose, Phoenix, Nashville, Dallas

Why Your Team Will Take Him: Because he has all the tools to be a solid (or better) forward at the NHL level; because his upside is arguably the highest of the likely second-round prospects.

Why Your Team Will Pass on Him: Because his ability to put the puck in the net is a major question mark; because despite his size and speed he’s far from a ‘safe pick’; because seven goals against prep competition doesn’t seem to make sense.

Strengths: Explosivity, Skating, Size, Playmaking

Weaknesses/Concerns: Physicality, Finishing, Consistency, “Toolbox”

Projection: Third-Line Two-Way Winger – (10g, 45p potential)

Predicted 2012 NHL Draft Range: First/Second Round, 26-59

Overall Rank: 53

N.A. Rank: 41

US-HS Rank: 2

Forward Rank: 31

U.S. National Rank: 10

Bob is the Boston Bruins correspondent for The Hockey Writers and a credentialed member of the Providence Bruins' Media.

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