Position: Left Wing
Height/Weight: 6'2", 185 pounds
Team: Indiana Ice (USHL)
Cristoval Nieves is a raw talent who is expected to play college hockey at the University of Michigan for the 2012-13 hockey season. This year, he scored two goals with eight assists in 13 games for the Indiana Ice of the USHL.
Many of his fundamental hockey skills, such as skating and puck-handling, are already polished despite his lack of experience against top competition. He also has good size. When you combine this with his impressive quickness, it's easy to see why Nieves is projected to be a top-tier power forward at the NHL level.
If he can add some muscle and become an even stronger player, Nieves would become one of the most difficult players to defend in the CCHA for Michigan next season.
His playmaking abilities are also worth noting. If Nieves can continue to develop his passing skills, it's scary to think how good this guy could be in the NHL.
How Nieves performs at Michigan against better quality opponents will tell the New York Rangers a lot about how far he is in his development as an NHL prospect. He won't be in the NHL for a few years, but there's no question that he was a smart pick by the Rangers and a player they can rely on in the coming years.