The trading season is going wild.
With the trade deadline slowly approaching, the San Jose Sharks decided to get a jump on things by making their own trade, sending defenseman Ryan Merkley and forward Matt Nieto to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Martin Kaut and defenseman Jacob MacDonald.
While the trade is largely understated on the surface, it happens to include two recent first-timers.
Overriding Colorado’s rebounding end is Merkley, the 21st overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft, who made a name for himself as a prospect with his offensive high-end game. Merkley’s pro career hasn’t quite featured the same fireworks that his junior did, with the 22-year-old spending the majority of his 2021-22 season in the NHL, registering one goal and six points in 39 games before. heading back to the AHL this season.
Joining him in Denver is Nieto, a veteran of 615 NHL games who actually spent four seasons with the Avalanche from 2016 to 2020.
Kaut is the second first-rounder included in this swap — a player who, like Merkley, hopes to use a fresh start to tap into his potential.
The 16th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Kaut made his NHL debut in the 2019-20 season, but has played in just 47 games since then. Even with Colorado’s influx of injuries opening up many lineup spots, Kaut was never able to carve out a consistent role for himself, with his new surroundings hopefully being just what the doctor ordered.
In 33 games this season, MacDonald, who is headed to San Jose with Kaut, has registered two points.