Cristoval Nieves: 2012 Draft Prospect Profile

For those of you who have been under a rock, the New Jersey Devils have decided to keep their first round pick this year. Therefore, In Lou We Trust is picking out several possible first round prospects the Devils may be targeting. One of the possible prospects is Cristoval Nieves. Nieves is a center who could possibly help the Devils fill their hole at center in a few years.

Follow along after the jump to find out more about Cristoval Nieves!

Who is Cristoval Nieves?

Cristoval Nieves was born near Syracuse, New York and has lived there most of his life. He is 18 years old, six foot three inches, and around 185 lbs. He played high school hockey at Kent School in Connecticut and even played a little junior hockey with the Indiana Ice of the USHL this year. His family gave him the nickname "Boo" when he was younger and it has stuck with him to this day.

Nieves is committed to going to the University of Michigan in the fall and has been committed to the NCAA for quite some time. He has been vocal about going through the college system rather than major juniors. I generally agree with this path because this system puts out good hokey players who are also more mentally prepared for high pressure situation since they received an education.

Fun Fact:

When Cristoval Nieves was asked who his NHL role model was, he said "probably Zach Parise." If he is drafted by the Devils, he may be able to play with his idol some day! He also enjoys playing the drums.

Nieves Career Statistics:

Nieves has been consistent the last two years at Kent. He put up 39 points each season. Also, in 13 games in the USHL, he put up 10 points. Pretty impressive for a teenager.

What experts have said about Nieves:

Nieves is ranked 27th in the CSS final rankings. Here is his draft prospect card from NHL.com.

A respected New England amateur scout said this about Nieves:

"He still has a lot of growing to do in his body,' he's 6-foot-3 and 185, but in my mind I picture him at 215 or 220. The way he skates, with his natural athletic ability and head for the game, he's a really good prospect."

Matt Herr, the Kent hockey coach had this to say about Nieves' future:

"He's one of the best skaters I've seen this year. I think he can jump into the American Hockey League and play right now and you wouldn't even blink."

Adam Kimelman:

"Big kid with great speed, top-end offensive skills."

Steven Hoffner:

"Flashy forward is the highest-rated U.S. scholastic player in draft."

Video:

Nieves has a somewhat popular YouTube video of him sliding through two defensemen and putting the puck in the back of the net with a nifty little move.

My Opinion on Nieves:

Although I don't consider myself an expert on prospects, here are a few points to chew on about Cristoval Nieves.

1. He's got some very slick hands

2. He is a fast skater, but only marginally faster than other top end prospects.

3. He is a smaller guy, at 185, It's a question mark as to whether or not he could bulk up to handle the NHL.

4. He hasn't faced a lot of quality competition. High school competition is not as balanced as the junior leagues.

In conclusion, I wouldn't take Nieves in the first round. If Lou decided not to forfeit the Devils first round draft pick for Nieves, I would be a little disappointed. What do you think about Cristoval Nieves? Should the Devils draft him in the first round or later? Should the Devils be targeting a different player or position? Sound off below!

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